Mascots full movie review - Just not up to par.
MAJOR SPOILERS. You've been warned.
I actually just created an account specifically to review this film. Here goes:
Overall, this movie felt lazy and unoriginal compared to Guest's previous mockumentaries. It's a tough row to hoe - he's had so much success with this format, and he's hit gold with his brilliant casts so many times, it's hard to see exactly how this one fell so flat.
I can't help but wonder how much footage got left on the cutting room floor. Entire story arcs are introduced and then abandoned without any consequence (like the weird "affair" side plot with the sisters that never results in any tension or narrative growth). Plot points are introduced to generate narrative tension (like the British character getting pulled over by the cops, making him late for the competition.. except that he's NOT, and he gets there in time, and there's no real conflict). The Plumber makes a big deal about re- connecting with someone he lusted after in high-school, and we get to see the awkward reunion. Turns out she's engaged. And that's it, the situation never contributes to the story again and doesn't really add anything to the overall plot, and we never see her again. What's the point?
One of the best characters, an Irishman inexplicably from Manitoba, floats through the story, peripherally interacting with other characters but never really making much of an impact. His big dramatic climax (his performance) is loud and brash, and the crowd goes nuts. And... that's it. He doesn't get a trophy, he doesn't appear on camera again at all.. until the film decides to make his becoming a monk for some unfathomable reason the final joke we see.
Also, what was the deal with The Worm and his partner placing second, when we barely got to meet them and they had zero bearing on the plot? We don't even know who his partner IS. There's a mention of The Worm being on Ecstasy near the beginning like it's a big scandal, and I totally expected it to be a major plot arc.. then nothing. No more drug conflict, he's fine. Then the Aardvark has a complaint lodged against her by... someone who is never revealed.. and the complaint is dismissed.. and nothing comes of any of it. And who the heck was in the "partner" costume in the Plumber's big performance? They could at least have made it one of the blind kids from the school he visited or something, but instead it's just an anonymous acrobatic break-dancer. I guess we'll never know.
On top of that, TONS of plot elements and characters felt like they were entirely lifted from previous Guest films and dropped into this one. Trouble checking in at the hotel (Best In Show, Spinal Tap). Not being able to find someone right before showtime (A Mighty Wind). A couple who are obviously unhappy having a public meltdown (Best In Show). An injury or illness requiring a last-second substitution (Best In Show). Epilogue jokes about a couple parlaying their success into a different business venture (Best In Show, A Mighty Wind) or undergoing a major personal change (Harry Shearer's sex change in A Mighty Wind vs. The Fist becoming a monk). Fred Willard as a questionably credible "manager" who is repeatedly ignorant and folksily offensive (A Mighty Wind). The pre-event gala where everyone gets to awkwardly mingle (A Mighty Wind, Best In Show, Spinal Tap). And on. And on. Does Christopher Guest only have one story to tell? It's starting to feel that way.
It honestly felt like a remix at best. Yeah, it was occasionally funny - you'd have to actively try NOT to be with a cast like this. I'm not even going to say it's not worth watching - you'll probably find it entertaining, if a little predictable. Maybe I should even rate it higher than I have, but for me this felt like one of those Mad TV skits that are obvious re-writes of a Saturday Night Live classic. If I hadn't already seen Guest's other films, I probably would have enjoyed this a lot more.