People love dogs. More than that, people love ugly dogs as was evidenced when Sam, the king of all ugly dogs died in 2005, his website received more than 6 million hits in 2 days! Last year when Miss Ellie, the queen of all ugly dogs died her story was the number three highest trending story of the year according to Yahoo. The only stories ranked higher were the death of Michael Jackson and the election of President Barack Obama.
Award winning filmmakers John Beck and Don R. Lewis take viewers inside the world of the ugly dog circuit, this time chronicling the contestants for the 2010 ‘World’s Ugliest Dog’ title. The contest takes place each summer in Petaluma, CA and 2009′s winner was a rescue dog named Pabst who has a 2-inch under-bite. He upset the heavily favored Rascal, a funky looking pooch who may (or, may not…) hold the worlds record for ugliest dog in the world and his win has raised the stakes for the 2010 contest.
While the contest itself focuses on the dogs, ‘Worst in Show’ takes viewers behind the scenes and into the lives of these people who are obsessed with the ugliness of their dogs and their quest to become crowned ‘World’s Ugliest Dog.’
We meet Dane, a 33-year veteran of the ugly dog circuit, and Rascal, his African Sand Dog who’s always in tow. They’ve been featured on Jay Leno, Carson Daily and The View. Dane works hard to get his dog out to celebrity events but his drive and ambition turn off other competitors like last year’s surprise winner, Miles.
In an unprecedented upset Miles’ dog Pabst gained crowd support and wrested the 2009 title away much to the dismay of Dane. The two of them have maintained a competitive relationship throughout the year and as people, they couldn’t be more different. Miles, a blue collar guy from Sacramento clashes with Dane, a celebrity who has a star on Palm Springs’ ‘walk of fame’ and the two can’t wait for the rematch.
‘Worst in Show’ also introduces viewers to Icky, a 6-month old rescued Chinese Crested dog who is almost entirely hairless. The ‘World’s Ugliest Dog’ contest will be Icky’s first but with his owner John shaving his head into a matching mohawk for the event, he’s a contender to watch out for.
Rounding out the contestants in ‘Worst in Show’ is Ashley and her dog Winston who was rescued after Hurricane Katrina. Winston has a large scar across his head and Ashley is only hoping to win to spread the word about rescue dogs- particularly ‘ugly’ ones which have trouble being adopted.
‘Worst in Show’ is not only funny but gives great insight into the price of fame and what attracts and repels us all from ‘the ugly.’ What makes a dog ugly and would we be afraid to adopt a dog perceived as ugly? Stanford law professor Deborah L. Rhode who has written a book entitled ‘The Beauty Bias’ chimes in as does Chair of the San Francisco State film department Aaron Kerner who’s PH.D work focused on ‘the ugly’ in cinema.
But for all the serious questions asked, ‘Worst in Show’ is hilarious. A mix between the mockumentary ‘Best in Show’ and the outstanding documentary ‘King of Kong,’ ‘Worst in Show’ is a crazy ride through the lives of these people with their ugly dogs as they gear up to duke it out at the annual contest. What makes these people tick? How far will they stoop to become champion? Is it unfair to call your dog ugly and then fight for that title? All these questions and more are answered in the feature documentary film ‘Worst in Show.’