Christopher Guest’s latest film, Mascots, is now on Netflix, but it fails to inspire viewers like Guest’s previous work.
Mascots is Christopher Guest’s latest attempt at an improv comedy movie smash but falls flat long before the finish line. Mascots follows the stories of five mascot teams who are all preparing for the biggest mascot competition in the world, The Fluffies. The first 45 minutes of the film is dedicated to familiarizing viewers with the five teams of mascots, and the second half shows the day of competition, with five minutes serving as the epilogue. While Mascots follows Guest’s familiar formula of structured scenes fueled by improvised lines, the almost 15 minutes of choreographed mascot dance make it feel less like a fresh improv experience and more like a poorly written Adam Sandler film (it’s still better than most Adam Sandler films, though).
The “script” makes way for a large ensemble cast, which Guest normally uses well, but not this time. The biggest problem is all the characters in Mascots are unlikable jerks with no redeemable qualities, including a drunken Canadian (Chris O’Dowd), an abusive dad (Jim Piddock), a total loser (Phil Mayhew), and our protagonist, an adulterous creep (Zach Woods). While it is true that even in his previous films most Guest characters are jerks, they still have redeemable qualities. For example, the ensemble in Waiting for Guffman are all jerks because they’ve been poisoned by the trappings of fame, enabling us to pity them even as we look down upon them.
Mascots isn’t terrible, it’s just really bad, and it pales in comparison to Guest’s previous work.
Speaking of Waiting for Guffman, one of the only good parts of Mascots was when Guest cameoed as his character from Waiting for Guffman, Corky St. Clair, which reveals where this film suffers at its greatest: the lack of Christopher Guest. Guest usually plays a leading character in his films, but this time he just played a two-scene cameo character, handing over the leading role to Zach Woods, who often comes across as wooden and unfunny. Woods plays his character in a very similar manner to how he played Gabe in the American version of The Office (another character I don’t like, by the way), but Zach isn’t the only stale performance; many of the other actors portray their characters as wooden or mean.
Mascots isn’t terrible, it’s just really bad, and it pales in comparison to Guest’s previous work. Mascots isn’t unwatchable—it still has some funny moments, including a death-defying mascot stunt—but the reader would probably be a funnier mascot (Speaking of which, sign up to be the Cobbler mascot in the Career Center!), and can surely find something better on Netflix.
Rating: Mascots gets 3 out of 10 cobblers.