There's a lot to love in the new trailer for Life After Beth. Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, Dane DeHaan, and Aubrey Plaza as the undead girlfriend of your dreams/nightmares. For those of us who still can't bare to watch The Walking Dead or World War Z, this is the one zombie production that we might actually be able to enjoy:
The trailer for her other movie About Alex has also been released. There are no zombies, but there's definitely a dark humor permeating this one, as Plaza plays one of a group of friends gathered in the wake of a suicide attempt:
Plaza fans the world over—anticipate a very big year for your favorite Parks and Rec weirdo.
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We've got another year of Pawnee on our hands people! NBC has just officially announced a seventh season of Parks and Recreation. NBC Chairman Bob Greenblat gave a preliminary announcement at the TCAs a few weeks ago, but the network announced the renewal officially last night. Thanks to NBC's recent dire straits, in just a few years Parks and Recreation has gone from teetering on the edge of the cancellation abyss, to improbably becoming NBC's guaranteed renewal. And while Parks and Rec obsessives might be excited for the prospect for more episodes, we can't help but worry about our one-time favorite comedy.
Sadly, Parks and Rec feels like a pale vestige of its prime seasons. What once was a triumphant workplace comedy now feels like a show that's just going through the motions. Ever since the show hit its high watermark in Season 3, each subsequent season has brought diminishing returns, and each return to Pawnee is less joyous and gleefully hilarious than the last. Now we find the show deep into its sixth season, but seemingly scared to commit to making any drastic changes. After the inspiring city council race, Leslie is back at the Parks Department, Tom has another failed business venture under his belt, and has dreamed up yet another, while April and Andy are doing... something. Every time a character takes a chance and makes a reach for something greater, the show spring 'em back to the status quo like a rubber band. If the next season of Parks and Recreation is its last, like it should be, then we want to see several things happen before we say goodbye for good.
The show should end with Leslie and Ben leaving PawneeEven Leslie Knope herself is realizing that she needs to leave Pawnee for good sooner rather than later. Leslie has abilities and aspirations that reach far beyond the confines of small-town government, and it's made worse by the fact that only a few people even recognize all the good that she's done. Leslie needs to pack things up and move on to bigger and brighter pastures. After seven seasons of dealing with the people of Pawnee and Eagleton, she deserves it.
And Pawnee needs to recognize Leslie's accomplishmentsIt's a long running joke of how dimwitted and unappreciative the citizens of Pawnee are. Despite the jeers from residents, Leslie has always given them what they didn't know they wanted or needed. Unfortunately, funny has turned to aggravating, especially after the city council storyline. Not that Parks needs to get all shmaltzy and cloying, but the town should be sad to see Leslie move on. She deserves something after all of the crap she's put up with over the years.
Tom finally needs to find a stable business ventureTom's multiple failed startups are one of the biggest indicators that the show is just spinning its wheels. Entertainment 720 was doomed, and for good reason since it showed an inexperienced Tom creating a business with all flash and no substance. It was a learning experience for him, and one that he needed. Next was Rent-a-Swag, which was actually a great idea, and actually showed Tom using good business sense, but the show saw fit to rip the business right from under him via Henry Winkler. Parks is setting up Tom with these new projects and knocking them down again just so Tom has something new to do each season. It's all starting to feel too repetitive. The writers should actually give Tom the business he deserves and let him keep it for at least a while.
Andy and April should find a causeOne of the problems with Parks and Recreation's characters is that few characters besides Leslie seem to have any specific goals that stay relevant after more than a handful of episodes. Tom leapfrogs from one new dream project to another, while April similarly feels like she's just going through the motions of progressing though city government. We hope that April finds a personal and fulfilling goal to work towards, and that Andy might do something else. Actually we wouldn't mind if Andy just played Mouserat gigs forever.
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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It took some time for Parenthood's audience to warm to phographer Hank Rizzoli. He's gruff, grumpy, and the wrench that was thrown between Sarah and her dreamy jailbait schoolteacher, Mark Cyr. But Hank stuck out the awkwardness to become one of the richest recurring characters on the show. This season has been a rocky one in terms of doling out enough quality material for the entire Parenthood ensemble to chew on, but Hank's story in particular has taken a captivating turn. Ray Romano is unlikely casting for this role, without question. And he's giving a beautiful performance.
Romano's no stranger to award shows. It's easy to forget as Everybody Loves Raymond syndicated episodes fade into background noise that the series was recognized year after year. But we couldn't have guessed from his nine-year stint as a sarcastic sportwriter — with little depth of character — that Romano could have us reaching for the tissues week after week. Hank's friendship with Adam and Kristina's son Max has been one of the bright spots of the series. They're both no-nonsense with a work ethic that would make most people beg for mercy. And maybe their similarities don't end there. Now that Hank is learning more about Max's Asperger's diagnosis and comparing it to his own personality traits, we've got several exemplary scenes for Romano's Emmy reel.
In the clip below, Hank goes to Sarah to tell her about his revelation. He can barely look her in the eye, mirroring Max's usual disassociative postures. He's a little scared, but also strangely relieved. He can hardly get the words out quickly enough: this might be why his marriage failed and why he can't connect with his daughter. And he notices that Sarah's dressed for a date, and all over again, he's crushed. These are the things that he can't have. Maybe ever. There's so much to play in just a few minutes, and Ray Romano — former stand-up and recovering star of a family-friendly sitcom — absolutely nails all of it.
Everything’s coming up Amy! Between her Golden Globe win, the premiere of her new Comedy Central series Broad City, and the renewal of Parks and Recreation, our girl Amy Poehler is on a roll. NBC also committed to producing a pilot of another series Poehler is writing, tentatively titled Old Soul. However, Poehler isn’t the only Parks and Recreation star to see increasing popularity. What will all this mean for the show’s seventh season?
Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones already left the show this week. Their exit will leave room for the series to focus more on Leslie and Ben’s relationship, as well as the other characters played by Aubrey Plaza, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, and Nick Offerman.
However, all the other stars of the show have taken more and more film roles in their down time from Parks and Recreation. Most notably, Chris Pratt had to take time off from the NBC comedy in order to film Guardians of the Galaxy. Now that he’s in serious talks for the lead in Jurassic World, it’s possible he could take more time off from Parks and Recreation.
Then there are Poehler’s writing projects Broad City and Old Soul, while Plaza, Ansari, and Offerman are seeing success in the film world. The main cast of Parks and Recreation has become successful outside of the show, so it’s possible season seven might be the final season. (Though nothing is set in stone just yet!)
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Pawnee on the whole will feel a little bit emptier without Ann Perkins and Chris Trager, but there are two residents of the sleepy Indiana town who be feel particularly sad to see the expectant parents go: Leslie and Ben. After Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe bid their farewells to Parks and Recreation on this week's episode, we'll be seeing the show try every trick in the book to keep Ms. Knope and Mr. Wyatt from spiraling into a state of bestfriendless insanity. We've seen Leslie and Ann's relationship blossom from the early days of perplexed annoyance to unremitting love, and we've reveled in the established Ben/Chris camaraderie that never made much sense but always felt authentic. Luckily, we've seen Leslie and Ben explore plenty of other terrific friendships over these past seven years, but if we had to pick a favorite pairing for each...
6. JERRY: To be honest, we're a little over the whole "dump on Jerry" routine. Stop changing his name, at the very least.
5. TOM: Some laughs here and there, but there hasn't been enough evolution with the hypercompetent boss/slacker right-hand-man shtick to keep it fresh.
4. ANDY: Leslie and Andy had an fun rapport in the early days, with Leslie taking Andy under her wing and turning his life around, but their stories have been few and far between lately. Plus, they might be a little too compatible to be truly interesting as a pair.
3. DONNA: Leslie and Donna are from two entirely different worlds, to the point where Leslie is bewildered by a great deal of the things that Donna says and does. The fact that they maintain a warm chemistry despite this makes for a terrific, albeit underdeveloped, relationship.
2. APRIL: Call it big sister/little sister, or probably more accurately sprightly math tutor/underachieving ninth grader who secretly envies the former's drive even if she might skip out early to smoke cigarettes behind the laundromat. Either way, there's something extremely heartwarming about the Leslie/April dynamic (and if you disagree, watch the Season 3 episode "Fancy Party," wherein April admits, softly, that she loves her boss and role model).
1. RON: The big guns. The oddest coupling of the lot is the greatest friendship on the show, save maybe for Leslie and Ann. The eternally frowning Ron has doled out fatherly advice to the anxious Leslie, in turn receiving the sort of compassion to which he was never treated by his parents or wives. Although only one of them would ever admit it, Leslie and Ron love, need, and complete each other in a very special way, and it's always touching to see them exemplify that.
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6. DONNA: I guess I like when she calls him "Wyatt," but there's not much going on there.
5. JERRY: Ben might actually be the only person who shows Jerry any semblance of kindness, so he gets a point for that. Still uninteresting though.
4. ANDY: Yeah, they have their moments, but whereas some odd couplings on this show derive comedy and charm from a place of unexpected internal similarities, Andy and Ben are really just a giant happy-go-lucky goofball and an uptight cynic forced to band together on occasion. Not a lot of terrific work has been done with the pairing.
3. RON: What's kind of wonderful about this one is that we still get the feeling that Ben is terrified of Ron. He has no reason to be, and does showcase a lot of respect and appreciation for Ron, but it's hilarious nonetheless. Plus, there's also the tacit understanding that Ron has deemed Ben the only person good enough for his pal Leslie... so there's that nice bit, too.
2. APRIL: Another silver medal for April! Though their rapport might be a little bit contentious, you get the sense that April and Ben enjoy a tacit bond over the shared knowledge that they are smarter than nearly everybody else around them. There's a mutual respect there... even if it's buried under a jungle of barbs (mostly in one direction).
1. TOM: Far too underused, the Tom/Ben dynamic we saw flourish at the end of Season 3 is a personal favorite. Both "outsiders" who don't quite feel at home in Pawnee, both acutely in tune with their own respective subcultures, and both men of meager stature (we have to stick together, you know). Few interractions are funnier or more charming than Ben and Tom defending their respective outfits
But how could we not devote a little valediction to...
2. BEN AND CHRIS: Two weirdoes forced to travel the world (or Indiana) together, complementing one anothers' signature style and bonding over their shared social ineptitude. While Ben and Chris might not always seem to be sensible pals, we've seen each of them come through for the other, and we can actually feel the longstanding friendship they've shared since before we met either of them.
1. LESLIE AND ANN: Here it is, people. A story that began in the pilot, closing now as Ann heads off to have her baby in Bloomington. Leslie and Ann aren't quite the odd couple that Leslie and Ron or Ben and Tom are, but that doesn't make them any less interesting. Since we met her, Ann has been someone on a quest to figure herself out. Someone who fit in everywhere she went, but who never really knew who she was. On the other hand, we have Leslie: someone who knows exactly who she is, but who doesn't seem to belong anywhere. It's really meaningful that the two women met due to a pit that needed filling, because that is exactly what they did for each other. Internally. Like, in an emotional way. Does that metaphor work? Ah, who cares. We'll miss you, Ann. But not as much as Leslie will.
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This season's been a tough one for the baby of the Braverman family and her husband. Trouble has been brewing since the pair adopted Victor and Julia (Erika Christensen) lost her fancy law firm job. Tensions have risen as Victor struggled in school, Julia was crushed by the duties of being a stay-at-home mom with a child who needs extra attention, and Joel (Sam Jaeger) went back to work full-time.
Not helping matters were Joel and Julia's respective relationships with new recurring guests Pete (Sonya Walger) and Ed (David Denman). We imagined that Pete, a glamorous architect with a decidedly unglamorous name, would be the main source of temptation. But Pete is as professional as they come. It's stay-at-home dad Ed we really should have watched out for. In the same boat as Julia, he was transitioning from a fast-paced job to full-time with the kids. The end of his marriage and his budding friendship with Julia led to a kiss, and one that she didn't break from as quickly as we hoped.
Parenthood is a tear-factory, but hope and family always win out in the end. Joel and Julia seem hopeless at the moment — when last we left them, Joel wanted to separate. But would the show really go so far as to create a rift in the heart of the Bravermans? Still, the show hasn't explored what parenting is like for a couple who's just getting used to not being in love with each other anymore. Sarah (Lauren Graham) and her ex-husband Seth are a different dynamic — they've been apart for years, and he's mostly out of the picture. This would be new territory for the show, as Joel and Julia negotiate their lives apart and struggling to limit the negative effect on their two kids.
Do you think Julia and Joel are done for or just going through a rough patch? Let us know in the comments!
Since the holidays this year seem to be even more jumbled together than usual, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been celebrating them back-to-back — although "Christmas" delegated the holiday spirit to the subplots, focusing instead on the death threats that Holt has been receiving from an anonymous criminal. He chooses Peralta to handle his security detail, thinking that he will slack off and allow Holt to investigate the incident on his own. But Peralta relishes the opportunity to command Holt, and handcuffs himself to the captain for his own protection. Meanwhile, Santiago is trying to get a picture of Diaz smiling so that she can give Holt the perfect Christmas card, and Terry undergoes a psych evaluation to determine whether or not he is fit for field duty again.
As we say every week, the best thing about the show is its cast, and therefore we like to spend some time every week focusing on the people who made us laugh the hardest. So, have Hitchcock put that Sumatra blend in a thermos, return the six presents you bought your boss, and check out the MVPs of Brooklyn Nine-Nine's eleventh episode, "Christmas."
Captain Holt and Jake PeraltaAny episode that focuses primarily on Holt is a good episode, because Andre Braugher is so magnificent. This week relies very heavily on the dynamic between the two of them as they are literally stuck with each other for most of it, but "Christmas" showed a different side to their relationship by placing Peralta in a position of authority and having Holt be the one refusing to follow the rules. - Peralta assigns Holt code names: Stone Eagle, Cold Mountain and Ice Veins. - After Peralta tricks Holt into going to a motel instead of going back to his apartment, he declares "It's a safe house, son! You've been protected!", to which Holt replies "Don't say 'son'."- One of Peralta's safe house rules is that "A safe house watching Safe House is a safe Safe House... house." - After Peralta handcuffs himself to Holt, he holds up a piece of paper between their heads to give him some privacy while he texts his husband. - Holt, catching the Free Style Killer, who took out a whole relay team: "Marco. Now, you say 'Polo', punk." The Holt flashbacks are probably the show's best running joke. - Peralta: "The coolest name of anyone I ever brought in was 'Narrow Shoes Sam,' because—" Holt: "Because he had narrow shoes and he was named Sam. I got it."- Holt smells like sandalwood, and his cutesy nickname for his husband is "Kevin."- Thank you, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, for gifting the world with Braugher pop-and-locking. It's a Christmas present that will be hard to top.
Charles BoyleAfter taking the backseat last week to some of the other characters' craziness, Boyle is back in full force this week, and the addition of Joe Lo Truglio is the perfect way to balance out the later scenes between Holt and Peralta and kept the dynamic from ever getting stale. - After Boyle and Peralta break up a fight between two Santas on the street, Boyle triumphantly yells, "I kicked Santa in the testicles!" to a horrified crowd of children. - Arriving to rescue Holt from Peralta's handcuffs: "It's me, Charles! From work!"- Instead of un-cuffing Holt from Peralta, Boyle handcuffs himself to the two of them. His reasoning? "I couldn't decide. I love both of you too much."- Boyle's parents eat their Christmas dinners in separate dining rooms, forcing Boyle to have to choose between them every year. - Peralta, reading Holt's death threats: "I would have gone with the whole 'I'll staple your face to my face' thing." Boyle: "Human skin mask. Classic."- Boyle smelling Holt after Peralta says he smells like sandalwood is perfect. - The slow-motion shot of Boyle complaining about getting shot in the butt made that stupid joke worth it.
Sgt. Terry JeffordsTerry probably has the least amount of screen time this week, as he is regaled to a psychologist's office for his psych evaluation. But it is pleasing to see that he's just as insane by himself as he is when surrounded by the other cops, and the growing look of horror on the psychiatrist's face is the perfect counterpoint to Terry's weirdness.- After finding out that they would be fixating on his fears during the session: "I popped your pillow."- Word association with Terry: "Bottle." "Liquor store. Hold up. Gun. Death." and "Cat." "Kitten. Cute. False sense of security. Gun. Death." - The call back to Terry's artistic talents with his terrified and terrifying self-portrait is hilarious.
No matter what happens, no matter how beaten and battered Amy Poehler's Leslie Knope may find herself, she'll never stay down for long. So is it true for the show itself, which returned for two pretty strong episodes last night that put the City Council story to rest and served as yet another reason to shake a fist at NBC for depriving us of this show while Comedy Thursday continues to burn itself into oblivion. The premises for both episodes were simple: Leslie filibusters to protect voting rights of Eagleton citizens, even though they want to vote her out in favor of Kristen Bell's Ingrid DuForest; and, Leslie hits rock bottom on Halloween after losing the recall election. But what made these two episodes sing was the funny stuff, so let's get straight to that. Here are the top 10 things from last night's hour of smalltown government comedy:
The Funny Stuff, Round 1 ("Filibuster"):
1. Roller skating! Not to be confused with roller blading, Ben's roller-rink birthday party and its accompanying early '90s theme was a delight. If only we could have seen the full choreographed couple's dance to "Losing My Religion" that we were promised.
2. Andy's Back! Chris Pratt's Guardians of the Galaxy schedule opened up briefly to offer this short but sweet vingette as April was able to overcome her usual bitterness to encourage him to fake it until he makes it, "Because everyone sucks but you're awesome."
3. Ron + Donna! Ron's endeavors to beat a Buckhunter-style hunting arcade game was all funny and was a great venue to see his mounting frustration mirrored by Donna's total apathy. Their brief sorjurn to the woods to hunt without a permit? Totally hilarious. And if you thought Donna would play striaght man to Ron's woodsman, you were sorely mistaken. "You know I don't give a f**k."
4. Tatiana Maslany! She's making another in the lost list of Tom's girlfriends come alive, really, for the first time. While her character is still hard to figure out, she's undeniably charming. This was supposed to be the last of her character, but hopefully everyone realizes how wonderful she is and she returns some time in 2014.
5. Jammargarita Mix! Councilman Jamm has been a worthy and frustrating foe, but with Leslie's triumph here it seems Jamm has finally lost his power over her and the council. Even though Leslie won't remain a Councilwoman, the image of her pouring his own freshly made margs on his beautiful curls will surely linger.
The Funny Stuff, Round 2 ("Recall Vote"):
1. Sad Leslie. Scarfing down burgers, dressed in an old t-shirt, and dispassionate even on Halloween, it was a nearly unrecognizable Knope for most of this half-hour. It could have been heartwrenching, but luckily Leslie is such a bighearted character that she can't help but commit even when she's feeling down. Her concession speech was a thing of apathetic beauty: "Eat my shorts, jabronis. Knope out."
2. Ben's Drunk! Hey, remember when Ben was a washed-up old kid mayor? Neither did he, until this episode, which gave Adam Scott the chance to also remind us that he is an all star when playing drunk. Also, shoutout to Ben for making that sweet Li'l Sebastian model, and bonus points for lovingly petting its mane.
3. Tom Sells Out! While the logical conclusion would be that Tom holds out and rides his business into the ground honorably, instead he gleefully sells out for 60 grand. It also provided a nice counterpoint to Ron's steadfast insistance that he would refuse to mass produce his Swanson chairs. Which leads into...
4. Lifestyle Guru! P&R can really hit a sweet spot satirically when it's making fun of the pampered bourgeosie (case in point: Treat Yo'Self!), and Annabelle Porter, who looks suspiciously like an off-brand Jessica Alba and sounds suspiciously like an off-brand Gwyneth Paltrow, is on-point, with her needless, pretentious email blast celebrating the most essential non-essentials Pawnee has to offer.
5. Sick Tats! That pawn shop would have made a great tattoo parlor. Chainsaws were everywhere, and the ink comes from real ballpoint pens! And you can start the countdown until diehard fans of P&R and/or awesomeness start getting Eleanor Roosevelt with a tasteful tattoo of Pat Benatar put on their forearms.
It’s a sad day for the people of Pawnee.
In a seriously Eagleton-like move, NBC has sidelined Parks and Recreation until November 14, and will replace the upcoming episodes with a repeat of The Voice on October 24, an SNL clip show on Halloween, and finally, a live episode of The Voice on November 7. When the show does return in November, it will air back-to back episodes for two weeks before disappearing again all the way until January 9.
NBC is burning through its new shows like a historical Indiana fire and the network is scrambling to save what has been a disastrous TV season. Two of its new shows, Welcome to the Family and Ironside, have already been cancelled, while Sean Saves the World and The Michael J. Fox Show continue to underperform. In the desperation to save face and ratings, Parks and Recreation has gotten lost in the shuffle.
NBC knows that the audience for Parks and Rec has grown as big as it ever will, and is banking that ratings juggernauts like The Voice will help attract viewers to the fledgling Sean Saves the World and Michael J. Fox Show. While this move makes good business sense, it is a bit of a disservice to fans that have been consistently tuning in to what has become one of NBC’s highest rated comedies. NBC knows that Park and Rec's small yet reliable audience will follow the show to whatever date or time slot it's dropped into, so it's not worried about delaying it for the rest of the year. It's unfortunate that the network is willing to play keep-away with one of its most critically acclaimed shows in order to save new programs which are, at this point, pretty much dead in the water. NBC should do whatever it can to protect its shows, but not at the expense of the show that has carried the network's Thursday night lineup on its back for the past couple seasons. It's like Li'l Sebastion has died all over again.