SXSW 2019: Well Groomed

Well Groomed still, dir. Rebecca Stern. Photo Credit: Well Groomed.

Rebecca Stern’s documentary, Well Groomed, takes us into the particularly strange and rather unique world of creative grooming and expos.

This film follows four different creative pet groomers over a period of a year, leading up to the largest creative grooming expo in Hershey, Penn.  For them, this is their Super Bowl.  All four of them are champion caliber groomers and they come from completely different areas of the nation.  We meet Adriane Pope of South Carolina, Cat Opson of California, Angela Kump of Arkansas, and Nicole Beckman of New York.  While this strange world brings them together, they all have something different to offer.

No matter how driven she is to take home the big prize, Adriane hasn’t been able to get it done just yet.  Those who know her on the grooming circuit think very highly of her as a competitor.  Meanwhile, Nicole is at the stage of her life where she’s struggling to take her Lansing, N.Y. business to the next level.  This doesn’t stop her from attending the grooming expos in order to network.  Next we have Cat, a champion who also must learn to balance her life on the road with her life at home.  Finally, we have Angela.  Angela is a regular on the circuit and if there were an MVP award, she would no doubt take home the prize.

Who are these people once we take them outside of the ring so to speak?  This is what Rebecca Stern seeks to learn as she follows them around for a year?  While the big event takes place only once a year, there’s a lot of planning that goes into it.  Nobody ever said that perfection would be easy.

Some of these women will spend $25,000 on creative grooming but they still have a life at home!  This is completely insane!  While I love movies, I don’t even spend that much in a year!  This just goes to show how expensive it is in order to attend all these expos.  As I type this, I’m starting to look at comic conventions in an entirely new perspective.

If it were up to me, the art of creative grooming would be declared illegal.  A few minutes into watching Well Groomed, my main thought is that this is animal abuse.  I don’t know if PETA has said anything about creative pet grooming but this is like an area where we’ll agree on the issue.  What do the dogs think of this?  Honestly, this is what I’d like to know.  I’ve seen how stressed dogs can be during a thunderstorm let alone taking a bath.  To me, this is just torture.

DIRECTOR:  Rebecca Stern
FEATURING:  Adriane Pope, Cat Opson, Angela Kumpe, Nicole Beckman

Well Groomed holds its world premiere during the 2019 SXSW Film Festival in the Documentary Feature Competition. Grade: 3/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.