Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Smallest Park': Man, I'm steamroller
A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I get competitive with Martin Luther King...
Leslie Knope has long since evolved past the "female Michael Scott" type many of us tagged her as back in the bumpy first season. But if her personality has become very different, the extremes of it - and the way those extremes have to be carefully modulated so that she doesn't seem unbearable - are definitely familiar from many years of watching "The Office" writers figure out exactly what they could get away with in writing Michael. For the most part, "Parks and Rec" has been pretty pitch perfect in terms of how it's depicted Leslie, turning her human steamroller persona into a positive attribute rather than a deficit.
Every now and then, though, Leslie goes too far, and those episodes tend to be less enjoyable. "Smallest Park" happened to be one of those, but it managed to mitigate some of the problems by being about how Leslie sometimes goes too far, and by ending on a dynamite, moving Leslie/Ben scene at the smallest park in Indiana.
"Smallest Park" was aware throughout that Leslie was being both ridiculous and unfair to Ben, and to Ann, and while some of that material was funny (Leslie telling Ann to shut her beautiful piehole), for the most part I found myself empathizing with Ben and wishing she would cool it already. But then came Ann finally getting Leslie to listen to her, and Ann talking to Ben, and then Ben and Leslie in the park - a fantastic acting duet for Amy Poehler and Adam Scott - and if it didn't magically make me laugh more at what had come earlier, it felt like a good character story for Leslie, and a moving springboard for Leslie and Ben to get back together, and damn the torpedoes. A great romantic moment for those two - just look at how Ben practically dives into Leslie to show her how he feels about her idea - and one that ultimately proved Mike Schur right for deciding to let the relationship play out the way it did. Ben breaking up with Leslie because of the campaign didn't feel contrived in the way these kinds of sitcom splits often are, we got a bunch of episodes where they didn't interact at all so we could feel the absence, then several where they did and he was miserable, and now they're going to give it another shot and see what happens. And they're so perfect together - as demonstrated throughout last week's Model U.N. insanity, or in the kiss tonight - that I look forward to whatever comes next.
Ron's affection for Andy (one of the few co-workers he doesn't actively root against) has been an excellent source of both comedy and pathos for the last couple of seasons, and I liked seeing him thrown into the college subplot so he could play the metaphorical angel to April's devil (or vice versa) on Andy's shoulder. It felt especially satisfying that neither his wife nor his boss's counsel landed Andy a class he enjoyed, where his own silly method did. (Though we'll see how long he is for Women's
The Tom and Jerry story felt like a good one for Tom's first episode back as a parks department employee, being forced to confront the monotonous, non-pimped-out lifestyle of a government employee after several months of Entertainment 720 insanity. For Tom, it's a nightmare. For Jerry, it's the life he's enjoyed for decades. And somehow, the two manage to accidentally team up and make the project a wild success. (And without using the "Sopranos" font where the R is a pistol.) Short, sweet, funny, and Jerry actually gets credit for once - sort of.
What did everybody else think?
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by. It has deep soul, a wicked sense of humor, and Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro, Pam Grier, and Robert Forster.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
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