‘They Were Getting a Little Cookie-Cutter’: Eugene Levy Says His Christopher Guest Collaborations Are Behind Him
Levy and Guest haven’t collaborated on a mockumentary — a term Guest apparently hates — since 2006’s For Your Consideration, and, in an interview yesterday with The Guardian, Levy let us know that the showbiz comedy film was likely their last together. With additional performances in Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, Levy was once one of the funniest and most dependable actors in Guest’s star-studded stable — until the movies became “predictable” and the mockumentary genre was overrun with television imitators.
With both men in their mid-70s, it was unlikely that the door was still open for Levy and Guest to return to form before Levy slammed it shut — even if their fans were hoping that Gerry Fleck would slip one of his two left feet in before it closed.
Despite co-writing and appearing in a couple of the best entries in Guest’s filmography, Levy was frank about what he saw to be a drop-off in quality with their later projects, saying, “Our fake documentaries — Chris always hated the term ‘mockumentary’ because we’re not mocking, it’s more affectionate than that — they were getting a little cookie-cutter in terms of story.” Levy echoed what fans have said about most of the post-Best in Show Guest films, noting, “Everything was kind of the same, except we just changed the subject. At a certain point, that becomes predictable.”
But repetition and routine aren’t the only reasons Levy is unlikely to return to the “fake documentary” fold — he looks at the mass of mockumentary-style sitcoms that clutter the comedic landscape and sees cut-rate copycats who have squandered the success that he and Guest enjoyed on the big screen. “So many television shows have picked up that form and just destroyed it,” Levy lamented.
Guest’s last directing job was for the 2016 film Mascots, in which he also reprised his Waiting for Guffman role of Corky St. Clair. Absent Levy, Guest assembled an all-star cast of old friends and new faces, with Fred Willard, Jennifer Coolidge, Chris O’Dowd, Jane Lynch and Parker Posey all appearing in an 89-minute muted comedy about a competitive mascot competition. In a scathing review, The Hollywood Reporter said of the film, “Mascots wins no prizes for innovation or progression. The jokes are uneven, the caricatures often overly broad and the plot almost nonexistent.”
Unsurprisingly, the co-creator and producer of Schitt’s Creek is more concerned with his more current comedy empire than returning to a tired formula from his earlier career. Guest, on the other hand, is reportedly rearing to return to his roots — last year, Guest, Rob Reiner and Michael McKean announced that they’re working on a Spinal Tap sequel.