REVIEW: WORST IN SHOW (2011)

Worst in Show WORST IN SHOW  is one of those documentaries that works so well no matter if one gives a flying fuck about dogs, or pets of any kind, for that matter. I, myself, think dogs are cool but would only have one if it didn’t act like a dog because I have a hard enough time cleaning up after my own mess let alone a dog’s. Why does this documentary work so well? It works so well because even though the dogs are the stars of this film they really aren’t. They aren’t the stars because they can’t talk; they don’t do anything in the documentary but sit there in their owner’s arms or laps. The stars of this film are the owners and I only say that because their personalities are so strong—some of them strong in a very bad way (or simply hilarious way!).

Sometimes I can be harsh and say things that others believe will land me in eternal damnation or some other sort of Hell. Well, whether one believes in Heaven or Hell is beside the point because WORST IN SHOW showcases some of the biggest losers I have ever seen on dvd before. I do not mean that in the nicest context possible. I mean that as an insult and the only plus to this statement on these individuals is the fact that their loser title (given to them by yours truly) amuses the shit out of me. These dorks are so entertaining in their mannerisms, their devotion to their pets, their almost sleazy pathetic actions to milk the fame from their pets for all its worth. I don’t think one can get any lower than using their dog as their way to fame and fortune. Well, maybe no one is getting any fortune anytime soon, but a few of these owners certainly are getting in the spotlight more than they could ever imagine if not for the help of their ugly-ass dog.

That being said, let us break apart WORST IN SHOW and see what components to this documentary about the world’s ugliest dog competition in Petaluma, CA make it a winner…. or just a total loser.

The film focuses on three particular dogs and their owners: Rascal (the veteran), Icky (the rookie), and Pabst (the underdog). The dogs are not very good looking, some far uglier than others, but I was only somewhat interested in the dogs. I was far more interested in the owners and their quirky personalities. Specifically, the owner of Rascal (whom I won’t mention by name for fear of some sort of reprisal or backlash) has to be the biggest retard on the planet. I don’t use the word retard to put down those that have been fraught with developmental disabilities that are beyond their control but I use it to describe an individual that has no mental impairments and STILL manages to appear to lack any sort of social, mental, or academic grace whatsoever. The owner of Rascal is neurotic, delusional, and clueless about everything. The man acts as a PR wrecking ball trying to pimp his dog in every way possible and attend every event that may publicize his ugly mutt. The man is a spotlight whore. He adores publicity. He adores it in a sickening and annoying sort of way. Frankly, I wanted to take his dog and kidnap it and have his reaction recorded so I could laugh at it every day.

I watched WORST IN SHOW waiting to see what stupid words came out of Rascal’s owner’s mouth…and boy did they ever come. Every single moment this idiot was interviewed he was oozing with selfish pride in a gloating manner. It really sickened me. Then it angered me. Then it just amused me. It amused me because the whole documentary (only running about an hour in length) was created in a format that really showcased some of the ridiculous nature of the whole subject matter.  If you think about it, what can be more absurd then a young adult or middle aged individual spending all, if not most of their spare time trying in vain to make their dog famous for being the ugliest dog on the planet? It is kind of like being famous for nothing. Those dogs are gaining notoriety for just being born a certain way. Being born an ugly freak and these ugly dog contests are really exploitative in nature. Can one imagine if there was a contest in which humans entered where one wins an award or prize for having the ugliest disfigurement or facial features? Oh no, there would be absolute outrage if this contest existed. Society can have a beauty contest but not an ugly contest.

The documentary is very entertaining. It digs deep into the dynamics, aesthetics, and minute details of the whole contest. Interviews are conducted with several contestants to the upcoming contest, as well as past winners and owners of ugly dogs. I enjoyed how the directors, John Beck and Don R. Lewis, set up the film to focus on several contestants and “famous” ugly dogs who all are entered into the upcoming contest. The film gives us the result of the winner, as well as a little bit of “where are they now?” tidbits following the epic finale.

I watched this documentary for the same reasons that I watch an episode of Hoarders or one of those shows that follows an individual with some sort of O.C.D.—to see what tragedy will occur next. I guess for WORST IN SHOW I watched it primarily to see what Rascal’s owner would do next. Of particular interest was the rivalry occurring between Rascal’s owner and Pabst’s owner. I was hoping for a “Celebrity Death Match” sort of battle at the end, but no such luck.

In the end, every dog has its day—even the ugly ones.

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