Christopher GuestUSA94 minutes2015PGColourEnglish

Director Christopher Guest (Best in Show, A Mighty Wind) and members of his beloved stock company — Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Ed Begley Jr., and Fred Willard — along with new additions Chris O'Dowd and Zach Woods, usher us into the high-stakes world of professional sports mascots, who are engaged in a cutthroat competition for the annual "Gold Fluffy Award."

All the world's a stage in the films of Christopher Guest, and all the players just want to be loved, to be accepted — and to win! Guest's semi-improvised mockumentaries consistently champion the underdogs. (And, in the case of the magnificent Best in Show, actual dogs.) With this latest film, the director and his extended family of gifted collaborators usher us into the milieu of professional mascots, those energetic individuals who bravely don ridiculous oversized costumes to excite sports fans and cheer on their team with slapstick antics. Chronicling the competition for the World Mascot Association's Gold Fluffy Award, Mascots is an inspired showcase for the comic genius of Guest and company.

Among the mascots who descend on Anaheim for the Golden Fluffies are a Midwestern man whose routine is based entirely around plumbing, a Texan whose moves are heavily informed by modern dance, and a womanizing Irish Canuck raised in a commune whose members follow the spiritual teachings of Michael Landon's character on Highway to Heaven. And then there's Gabby Monkhouse: mascot-turned-judge. The stakes are high, and the competitors must contend with mandatory drug testing, familial guilt trips, marital discord, and food poisoning. The WMA organizers, meanwhile, are desperate to impress a pair of representatives from the Gluten-Free Channel, who may just want to turn the Fluffies into a nationally televised event.

The cast includes numerous beloved actors familiar from previous Guest films: Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, Jennifer Coolidge, Ed Begley, Jr., John Michael Higgins, Bob Balaban, and Fred Willard. Mascots also welcomes new members to the fold, including Chris O'Dowd and Zach Woods. Every performance is, like the film as a whole, hilarious, bizarre, and big-hearted.