Mascot Mania: MASCOTS (2016) mockumentary misses the mark compared to similar projects

Written By Sarah Gibson, Mascot Correspondent 

Alright, I’m self-aware. I’m very proud of my mascot reporting, but I understand that it isn’t the most serious undertaking in the world. I think when your job description of “Mascot Reporter” can be used as a set up and punchline in, say, a mockumentary on mascots, then maybe you need to look in a mirror, and laugh at yourself once in a while by, say, watching a mockumentary on mascots. 

MASCOTS (2016) is the most recent mockumentary made by Christopher Guest, who arguably popularized the genre long before shows like The Office and Parks and Rec were in syndication. Some of his other mockumentaries include “Best in Show,” and “Waiting for Guffman.” MASCOTS is his most recent creation, following the lives of those who play sports mascots as they make their way to the World Mascot Association’s Fluffy Awards to compete for the Golden Fluffy first place prize. 

If you want the short version of my review: Start watching at the halfway point. I didn’t really find any of the first part funny with the exception of Jane Lynch’s short introduction, which got a genuine, chaotic laugh out of me, as if this movie were holding me underwater, and I was as desperate to laugh as I was to breathe. After the halfway point, we see the actual mascot performances at the competition, and those are where this movie really shines. Circus-worthy gymnastic feats, eye-opening interpretive dance, skits, and a cute dance or two all make an appearance in the latter half of this movie, and that half, I cannot recommend enough. 

The charm of a mockumentary, of course, should be in the jokes and the characters. I wasn’t a big fan of these characters. Two of the mascots are a married couple who spend the whole movie fighting and I guess the joke is every time they talk to the camera they’re trying really hard to be a cute couple? It’s not funny, it’s sad. Plus, part of what brings this movie down is it’s casual relationship with its own genre. 

Mockumentaries, in my opinion, should be strict and true to form. I don’t want to see a single steady shot-reverse-shot. But this movie doesn’t really remember it’s a mockumentary all the time. They very clearly show the couple having a full blown argument even though they wouldn’t be doing that with the cameras in the room. They use shot-reverse-shot for, oh, I don’t know, every conversation? It forgets what it is for most of the movie, so they weren’t able to use that to their advantage to make jokes. With that being said, I watched “Waiting for Guffman,” to familiarize myself with Guest’s work, and it appears that his come and go relationship with the mockumentary nature of his films is not just present in MASCOTS.

If you want to see a sports mockumentary that uses it’s genre well, check out Tour de Pharmacy and 7 Days in Hell, both 40 minute long sport mockumentaries that made me laugh more than this one did in twice that time. They use the mockumentary format to their advantage, and they’re produced in conjunction with Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island, so they’re super funny. 

With that being said, MASCOTS isn’t unwatchable, and I wouldn’t go so far to say it is a bad movie, but it is a bad mockumentary. I wanted to talk to you guys more on the mascot part of the movie, but I can’t, because instead of erring on the wackier side of his antics, Guest decides to make most of his jokes at the expense of the characters in the suits, and I just didn’t laugh. 

Who knows. Maybe the range of characters needed depth. Maybe they needed a mascot journalist at the event to tie everything together.