Long before shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation and Abbott Elementary popularized the form on television, Christopher Guest was busy establishing himself as king of the mockumentary with classics like This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. It’s been a while since Guest has directed a movie adhering to the faux-documentary style, however — his last two efforts were 2006’s For Your Consideration and 2016’s Mascots.
According to a new interview with Guest’s frequent collaborator Eugene Levy, Mascots may be the last mockumentary we get from the director. Levy told The Guardian that Guest has lost interest in the form because it has been overdone and “destroyed” by TV shows.
“Our last one was For Your Consideration back in 2006,” Levy told the publication, possibly forgetting about Mascot because he wasn’t in that one. “Our fake documentaries — Chris [Guest] always hated the term ‘mockumentary’ because we’re not mocking, it’s more affectionate than that — but they were getting a little cookie-cutter in terms of story. Everything was kind of the same, except we just changed the subject. At a certain point, that becomes predictable. In the interim, so many television shows have picked up that form and just destroyed it.”
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He’s got a good point. TV mockumentaries have reached the point of overkill. The best ones are still funny and creative, but many lesser series have a tendency to use the mockumentary format as a crutch. It’s easier to have characters looking directly into the camera explaining what’s going on and how they’re feeling about it than it is to write a compelling narrative that allows viewers to glean that information for themselves. It’s a shame that the oversaturation of the genre has led someone like Guest, who is a expert of the form, to abandon it.
Of course, he won’t completely be ditching mockumentaries. He’s reportedly signed on to a This Is Spinal Tap sequel film coming out in 2024.
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