Netflix is getting more ambitious this year than ever with original programming. Besides launching new shows this year such as “Bloodline,” “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp,” Netflix is also making it easier for you to watch movies that you would normally only get to see in theatres.
Tuesday morning, it announced that “Mascots,” its next original film, will be released in 2016, with beloved director Christopher Guest.
Plot details are slim right now. All we know is that it will focus on the people who participate in the “World Mascot Association Championships.” Honestly, that is all you really need to know, because “Mascots” is directed by Christopher Guest. This is exactly the kind of film he excels at.
Guest is a comedy legend who has been making great stuff for over three decades. He is best known for his mockumentaries. Guest had a short stint on “Saturday Night Live” in 1984, where he served as Weekend Update anchor. You might recognise him from a variety of other places.
His big breakout came in 1984, when he wrote and starred in “This Is Spinal Tap,” which was later deemed as one of the funniest movies of all time by the American Film Institute. It was the first time Guest took on the mockumentary format with a script that was mostly ad-libbed. He is the one who would utter the line “these go to 11.” In 1987, Guest would have a memorable role as the villain in “The Princess Bride.”
In 1996, he directed his first documentary, “Waiting for Guffman,” about a small town play with big dreams. It showed Guest’s ability to bring out humour in oddballs.
If you want any sense of what “Mascots” will be like, just look at 2000’s “Best in Show.” People pick their favourites when it comes to best, but I am strictly in the “Best in Show” camp. The mockumentary subject here is a dog show and the fanatical people who dedicate their lives to their canines.
The level of insanity behind-the-scenes is so present and so uncomfortably funny on so many levels:
Guest stars in the film as well as a man who knows a little too much about nuts:
In scenes like this, he is directing himself off of a script that basically doesn’t exist.
In 2003, Guest would assemble another great ensemble mockumentary in the form of “A Mighty Wind,” which chronicled the reunion of a folk music band. Guest would attempt scripted form with 2006’s “For Your Consideration,” which lands with mixed results.
Guest’s most recent effort as a director was the overlooked HBO series “Family Tree,” about a man (Chris O’Dowd) who tries to discover his family roots. “Family Tree” was canceled after just one season. “Family Tree” feels a lot less like a TV series and more like an eight part movie. Ironically, this would have worked perfectly for Netflix’s binge-watching model.
Besides the recently released “Staten Island Summer,” we have yet to see many of Netflix’s attempts at original films. Netflix is very willing to experiment with a diverse array of shows, from “House of Cards” to “BoJack Horseman.” Guest takes a lot of risks and practices a very different form of comedy than most others. This unlikely partnership just might work.
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