Oct 21, 2016

[Movies] Mascots (2016)

While Netflix gained popularity for becoming a content distribution service for various TV shows and movies, in recent years they've invested more into creating new content of their own in order to give subscribers more reasons to sign up. Initially they just made content deals for shows being cancelled on network television. But now they're making award-winning TV shows and some interesting documentaries and movies.

Mascots is one of those original movies and the first Netflix movie that Tobie and I opted to get into. The trailer was enough to get me curious plus the fact that there are so many familiar faces among the cast of this production. I just wasn't all too clear on what the premise was supposed to be about.

But hey, I do have a bit of an appreciation for the mockumentary style comedy. I like British humor. I like quirky concepts. This movie promised a lot of these things and I was really looking forward to it. But at the same time it wasn't quite a home run so we just made the most of it.

Synopsis: Mascots is a Netflix original comedy written and directed by Christopher Guest together with co-screenwriter Jim Piddock. Like Guests many other projects, it is positioned as a mockumentary but this time focusing on the mascot  subculture.

The movie is positioned as a documentary behind the scenes of the World Mascot championships that has sports mascots from around the world competing for the Gold Fluffy award. We get to meet some of the judges including the famous Gabby Monkhouse (Jane Lynch) and A.J. Blumquist (Ed Begley Jr.) Then of course there are the various mascots themselves like the teaching couple Mike (Zach Woods) and Mindy (Sarah Baker) Murray, the bad boy of mascots Zook Zucarello (Chris O'Dowd), modern dancer Cindi Babineax (Parker Posey) and her sister Laci (Susan Yeagley), and the latest bearer of the mascot of Sid the Hedgehog, Owen Golly Jr. (Tom Bennett).

The movie takes the time to explore their different stories as mascots past and present and what they have in mind for the big competition.

What I Liked: The concept behind the whole things has a lot of creative potential. We also have a lot of solid actors in the movie that are fun to watch and a sort of reunion for those who have watched past Christopher Guest mockumentaries like Best in Show. Everyone has a pretty good idea of what they need to accomplish for their individual characters and a lot of the arcs feel decently fleshed out.

And Best in Show was an oddly fun movie. I ought to watch that again.

What Could Have Been Better: The humor feels like it has an odd disconnect of characters and moments that feel distinctly British and other moments that are clearly American in structure and the two never blend all that well. so the humor kept going back and forth between the two styles and the end result wasn't amazing. To some extent, they didn't have to given the structure of the movie as documentary that focuses on each individual without minimal scenes where they can interact.

And I think that's the weakest part of the movie. We have all these crazy characters with a lot of comedic potential to do zany things together and instead we have them largely apart save for a few last-minute plot twists trying to tie some of the characters together in a non-significant manner. So we have a lot of mini-movies that happened to come together but didn't feel like a fulfilling multi-POV story.

TL;DR: Mascots is perfect Netflix fare - it's a movie that you wouldn't necessarily pay money for to see in a theater but it's decent enough for a lazy weekend. It's not remarkable but it's adequate. The movie this gets 3.5 odd mascot concepts out of a possible 5.


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