Seeing the Netflix logo up on the silver screen is a little jarring, but have no fear, Christopher Guest fans – Mascots is a typical slice of surreal mockumentary fun from the legendary satirist. Netflix have clearly stuck with their “hands-off” approach as they’ve entered the big-screen scene, and while this is certainly a win for the auteurs out there, Mascots could probably do with a little trimming around the edges.
Take a look at the cast list and you will see Mascots’ best assets – and its biggest problem. Guest has stuffed a dozen stories into a short runtime, each led by a strong comedic voice that could anchor a full feature. Unfortunately, the film choppily jumps between all of these varied threads, and struggles to find its groove anywhere. This also distracts from some top-quality character work as you never spend enough time with anyone – there’s nowhere near enough time with Chris O’Dowd’s Tommy to stop seeing him as Chris O’Dowd.
Not that some of these characters don’t make an impression in their limited screen-time – Parker Posey’s Armadillo mascot will haunt your nightmares for the foreseeable future. Lesser-known actors also make a splash, and those on top of their US TV watchlist will spot familiar faces strutting their stuff. Basically, every character deserves more time – although the most obvious missed opportunity is with Pitch Perfect’s John Michael Higgins, whose subplot about potentially filming the competition for the Gluten Free Network is woefully undeveloped.
Generally, Mascots is more chuckles and wry smiles than big laughs – but Guest gets a lot of mileage from the actual competition in the final act. With a great balance between painful cringe and saccharine sweetness, you won’t forget this odd little gang of “mascottery champions” any time soon.
CAST: Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge, Chris O’Dowd, John Michael Higgins
DIRECTOR: Christopher Guest
WRITERS: Christopher Guest, Jim Piddock
SYNOPSIS: A motley group of cheerleading competitors, clad in a bizarre array of furry costumes, battle it out in increasingly elaborate choreographed routines.