Mascots Parker Posey, Zach Woods, Tom Bennett, Chris O’Dowd. Directed by Christopher Guest. Not rated. Available October 13 on Netflix.
Christopher Guest’s Mascots is a bit like a reunion album by a classic rock band: It’s familiar enough to be welcome and comforting, but often feels like a pale imitation of what the people involved created during their heyday. Writer-director Guest, co-writer/star Eugene Levy and a team of talented actors produced three beloved and very funny semi-improvised mockumentary features (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, A Mighty Wind) during a short period starting in 1996, and since then Guest has struggled to recapture the same acclaim and success.
Mascots returns Guest to the mockumentary feature format, along with many of his repertory players (including Parker Posey, Ed Begley Jr., Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Fred Willard and others), although Levy is notably absent, both as writer and actor. Mascots most closely resembles Best in Show, as absurdly dedicated practitioners of an obscure pursuit (performing as sports mascots) gather for an annual competition. Guest has fun with the portrayal of people who take their roles as mascots very, very seriously, although the humor is gentler and softer than in his earlier films. Newcomers including Zach Woods and Sarah Baker match well with the returning cast, and even if most of the jokes elicit mild chuckles rather than hearty laughs, the whole thing is probably worth seeing just to hear Chris O’Dowd say “mascotery” in his Irish brogue.