Laura Green ‘18
“Mascots” is, in a word, cute. Its humor comes from the naively optimistic characters who take themselves, and the world of mascot competition, a little too seriously. The movie, which was released by Netflix on Oct. 12, centers around the characters vying for the Golden Fluffy, the most sought after award in the mascot world. These characters are intense, sometimes lovable and always ridiculous.
One of the sweetest relationships in the film is between Cindi Babineaux (Parker Posey), who performs as an armadillo representing a women’s college in Mississippi, and her sister, Laci (Susan Yeagley). At the beginning of the film, Cindi endearingly tells the story about how Laci gave her a note in high school, telling her they were half-sisters. When Cindi gets sick from her first time ever eating sushi, Laci, who has been performing the routine on the sidelines, must fill in. The pair is unconditionally supportive of one another. The image of an armadillo performing modern dance is not something you will soon forget.
Another high point is the story of Owen Golly Jr. (Tom Bennett), who has taken over the role of Sid the Hedgehog from his father and his father before him. Owen, who travels all the way from the UK with his caring wife, must live up to his dad’s expectations. Tension arises when Owen wants to innovate the routine by adding a daring ladder portion, which his father does not approve of. In the end, father accepts son for who he is, ladder and all. I get a bit misty-eyed just thinking about it, like only paternal pride can muster up.
The film succeeds in its characters and familial relationships. It falls flat, however, in its predictable plot. Yes, I know the lovable underdog will win. I know that the couple having marital problems will start fighting on stage. The plot consists only of the mascots preparing for and then performing in the competition. There is nothing unexpected to beef up the story line. It is a classic Christopher Guest film, just less fresh than his films used to be.
Guest, himself, plays a role in this film as Corky St. Clair, who will be familiar to those who have seen “Waiting for Guffman” (1997). Guest fans will also be familiar with the plotline, as it is very similar to that of “Best In Show,” which also focuses on a competition full of absurd characters. Some favorites from Guest’s films are also present, from Jane Lynch to Fred Willard, who play an uptight, narcissistic judge and a mascot coach, respectively.
The film is funny, but hardly ever laugh-out-loud funny. The most hilarious part is when the host of the event, Langston Aubrey (Michael Hitchcock), realizes that Furries have infiltrated the event and, suddenly, chases after one. However, more could have been done with the joke than random cuts to Furries throughout the event. The mascot performances were the best part of the film, with all of the excitement of the event coming to a head, not to mention the whimsical costumes.
“Mascots” succeeds in that you’re earnestly rooting for all of the characters, despite their idiosyncrasies. By the end, however, I was left wondering “Is that it?” The hour and a half breezes by, but mostly because the substance isn’t there.