Review: 'Parks and Recreation' - 'Soda Tax': Run for your wife
A review of tonight's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I lecture you on consistent font use...
"Soda Tax" is an episode about how Leslie Knope is still feeling her way through her new job on the Pawnee city council. But it also reflects how "Parks and Rec" itself is still feeling its way through the new status quo.
The tax storyline (inspired by Mike Bloomberg's controversial jumbo soda ban in New York City) was the episode's best, and not just because Leslie's addiction to sweets and Pawnee's reputation for morbid obesity are both so well-established. Yes, it's funny to see Leslie stress-eating raw sugar, to hear the list of restaurant names in town, Ron's description of his "Double Bacon Grenade Deluxe," the explanations for the misleading soda size names ("Well, it's roughly the size of a 2-year-old child, if the child were liquified"), etc. And any chance to hear the lunatics at a Pawnee public forum (including the return of Mike Scully, plus the group that wanted to tax women's genitals) is very welcome.
But the tax story also had a strong emotional component. As we were reminded last year in "Live Ammo," Leslie isn't used to a job where people are going to be mad at her a lot of the time. She's used to the adoration of her co-workers, and perhaps the indifference of Pawnee at large, but whether or not the restaurant association carries out its threat to lay off workers, people will not be pleased with Leslie. She has to accept that and learn to play tough and fight for her convictions. And, as so often happens when "Parks and Rec" is at its best, that realization came in a sweet, funny heart-to-heart with Ron Effing Swanson, this time about his four attempts to fire her early in her tenure.
But because Leslie now has this second job, while Ben and April are temporarily off in Washington, "Soda Tax" felt more diffuse even than last week (which at least had Leslie and Andy in D.C. for several scenes), and the two subplots slighter. It's amusing to watch Ben try to act cool around spoiled twentysomething interns in the B-story, and also to see just how out-of-shape Andy is(*) in the C-story, but both stories felt more like they were there just to give the supporting players something to do for a few minutes while Leslie was wrestling with her conscience. I was glad at the very least that Tom pointed out how often Chris freaks out about his mortality and loneliness; hopefully, this sends that character into a new direction, rather than rehashing last season's issues. And April taking the job more seriously by threatening to scoop Ellis's eyeballs out? Excellent.
(*) Chris Pratt says he puts on weight at the start of each season because Andy's a lazy guy. If you see him in "Moneyball" or most of his previous roles, that paunch isn't there.
What did everybody else think?
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
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
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
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
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 | 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
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
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
Let Streaming Genie help you.