Recently I finished my umpteenth re-watch of the misadventures of the waffle-loving, mini-horse worshipping civil servants that make up the cast of Parks & Recreation. The more I think it over, the more certain I am that Parks & Rec mastermind Michael Schur (who now brings us the equally brilliant The Good Place) created the best sitcom of the last decade. Parks & Rec started off as a spiritual spin-off of The Office, borrowing that show’s fake documentary format and, like The Office, the first season is short and underwhelming. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve urged to try Parks & Rec who have flamed out after a few episodes, so if you want to start (and you should), start with season two when the show found its own voice and the brilliant ensemble began to run at full tilt.
In the times in which we currently live, there’s something unbelievably cathartic about a show heralding the positive impact the government can make in the lives of citizens. Even if you should loathe the government, the show provides the greatest comedic Libertarian ever forged in the mustachioed Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman). The show is earnest and heartfelt; self-aware and smart, and nearly always hysterically goofy. I’ve written before about the show’s third season (peerless) which contains my favorite moment in the series in the brilliant “Ron’s Swivel Desk”. I have to revisit that season because it also contains my favorite running absurdity of the series: Pawnee’s rabid celeb crush on local mini-horse: Lil’ Sebastian. I can’t decide which moment in the episode is better: the tiny equine’s introduction and Adam Scott’s utter bafflement at his co-worker’s excitement or Chris Pratt’s “5,000 Candles in the Wind” tribute at the Harvest Festival so I am including both. In the dead of winter, if you need a laugh to warm your heart, you can’t go wrong revisiting Parks & Recreation.
The state of comedy on television is at its lowest ebb in my life time. It’s odd, given that television drama is in a golden age, that TV comedies are so mediocre that I can’t even think of one that’s worth watching. Parks and Recreation was originally conceived as a spin-off of The Office, though the only thing the shows shared was the documentary-style format. Though The Office plunged in quality at the end of its run, Parks & Rec stayed stellar through all its seven seasons on NBC, during which it was criminally ignored by the Emmys. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Parks & Recreation Season 3 (2011) “Ron’s Swivel Chair”→
Pixar’s brilliant romp through human psychology (honestly, they cover more in this movie than my freshman psych course did), Inside Out, is another feather in the cap for the studio’s most accomplished director at this point: Pete Docter. The film won a much deserved Best Animated Feature Oscar last year. It’s not as funny a film as some of the Pixar classics, but it is endlessly imaginative and at times packs as big an emotional punch as any film in Pixar’s canon. The number of people who have told me that Bing Bong messed them up for days is stunning. That’s not to say that the film isn’t hilarious in parts while exploring human thought processes. The pinnacle of the look inside our minds is the dinner scene in which Riley’s parents do a pretty fine job of exemplifying the difference between how the genders think in a three-and-a-half minute sequence. It doesn’t just work for Inside Out, though. I found this brilliant smash-up of the dinner scene with Walter, Jesse, and Skylar from Breaking Bad cut together with the same mind processes and it’s just as good and just as funny. Pixar recently announced that the sequelizing of their previous films (with Cars 3, Toy Story 4, and Incredibles 2 on the horizon) will end and they’ll be back to making original features. That’s good news for all movie fans, because when they’re on, Pixar pushes the bound of imagination like no other studio can.
Something happened to Pixar post-Toy Story 3…..it became just another animation studio. Whereas (with the exception of the abomination that was Cars 2) Pixar has been cranking out some of the best animated films ever created since 1995’s original Toy Story, the last few years have been just…good. But good isn’t good when great is the expectation, and ever since I heard the concept for Pete Docter’s (Monsters Inc, Up) film, I’ve been longing to see Inside Out. Docter does not disappoint and delivers Pixar’s most imaginative triumph to date. I’m not saying Inside Out is Pixar’s best film, but I can’t think of any other title in their catalog that has so many literally mind-blowing ideas stuffed into one movie. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Inside Out (2015) “Family Dinner – Inside and Out”→
Amy Poehler is the most criminally unrecognized lead actress in a comedy in recent memory. Why does she not have three Emmys for creating the fantastic Leslie Knope on Parks & Recreation while they keep slinging Emmys at Julia Louis-Dreyfus for the painfully unfunny Veep? One last chance to get it right this fall, guys? Poehler is also currently showing her talent as Joy in Pixar’s Inside Out, but this clip from the fifth season of her show is all about guest star Patton Oswalt.
This is not actually the scene that aired. Oswalt plays a character determined to filibuster at a Pawnee, IN, City Council meeting and they didn’t bother to write anything for the comedian, they just told him to talk about whatever he wanted for as long as he could. Uber Star Wars fan Oswalt then crafted his idea for for the plot of Star Wars: Episode VII and to describe it is to take away from its sheer majesty. It is a geek fugue and he literally ties nearly all of nerdiness together in an epic rant that lasts eight minutes. It’s one of the most impressive pieces of improv I’ve ever seen and that whole season was brilliantly funny so it’s telling my favorite scene is a rough cut. Watch and behold! A fan even made a poster for Oswalt’s vision. It’s that good.
Something happened to Pixar post-Toy Story 3…..it became just another animation studio. Whereas (with the exception of the abomination that was Cars 2) Pixar has been cranking out some of the best animated films ever created since 1995’s original Toy Story, the last few years have been just…good. But good isn’t good when great is the expectation, and ever since I heard the concept for Pete Docter’s (Monsters Inc, Up) film, I’ve been longing to see Inside Out. Docter does not disappoint and delivers Pixar’s most imaginative triumph to date. I’m not saying Inside Out is Pixar’s best film, but I can’t think of any other title in their catalog that has so many literally mind-blowing ideas stuffed into one movie. Continue reading Movie Review: Inside Out (2015) *Pixar is Back in CLASSIC MODE!*→