The aspect of doing reunions has become sort of “to-do” aspect to do the past couple weeks but technology tends to get in the way. There does need to be a bit of planning to do it well and it can be done. The question becomes how to do it and do it right without losing track or what once was or being mean spirited. “Parks & Recreation” was never about that but it tended to walk the line depending on what aspect of intention Leslie Knope wanted to pursue. The gang (the actors and creators) reunited for the aspect of charity (specifically “Feeding America“). And even though all the actors have gone on to other things, it is interesting to see how easily they can settle back in with each other as these characters but also the love they still bring to them.

The story is simple and effective and works on those merits. Leslie simply wants to do a phone loop to make sure that everyone is alright every day. Ron (obviously Nick Offerman) plays the right pitch as always but what comes through even more maybe than the original episodes is the heart in such a short time. Not wanting to give too much away, especially since it is only the half hour, is that it finds way to balance out just between doing phone tag and little bits. The inclusion of would-be commercials is ingenious and perfectly balances within Pawnee’s structure as well as the episode. Who knows where Chris Pratt was actually shooting (but it is perfect Andy) while it makes total sense why he is not in the house with April.

Even in a short time, you see where the relationships are, how they evolved and those little idiosyncrasies that fold into the story. But ultimately it is about heart and the wrap-up completely plays into that with nostalgia, texture and a bit of schmaltz which is perfectly what “Parks & Rec” was and what it stood for. Bravo to the players for both participating but also the creatives for understanding the balance and finding the right way. It is not a normal episode nor should it be but it shows the creative community adapting, looking out but also reaffirming the aspect of even if you are isolating, people are all around you, especially the ones that care. Well done. Still feel bad for Gary.


By Tim Wassberg

IR Film Review: THE LEGO MOVIE 2 – THE SECOND PART [Warner Brothers]

As franchises evolve, so do their storylines. Simple is better but when dealing with mythology (and, even more daringly, pop culture), time is very finite but it is also finding the balance of two worlds, between demographics, between ages, sometimes even between genders. “Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” uses the essence of playtime as a perception for the travels of Emmett through the essence of his human counterpart. While it is an interesting construct, sometimes the interplay can be a little haphazard. The key might have been never showing the live action faces. That jarring perception between reality and animation can be tricky. Here, the essence of the plot, unlike the first one is not just welcoming a new person into the world but also growing up and learning to share. That definitely supplants an interesting tone since one side of the coin is male (think apocalypse) and the other side is female (outer space, filled with the notion of love with a bit of darkness). This texture again can work well but there is never a brilliant moment despite the overarching structure.

Chris Pratt, as always, brings his game, but what is real great as the secondary character Rex Dangervest is that Pratt infers a pretty dead on impression of Kurt Russell/Jack Burton into the mix. Granted the lines aren’t anywhere near as sarcastic or funny as “Big Trouble In Little China” but there is that sense of connection (to “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2” anyway). This part of the story is the most engaging because it is the story of the Id and unfurls a slightly darker tone. On the reverse, Tiffany Haddish as the alien queen brings a sort of sass, though the musical sequences can be a bit schmaltzy even in their attempt at being sardonic. With a darker texture, there were little glimpses of “Audrey II” in “Little Shop Of Horrors”. Will Arnett continues his disassemblage of Batman, whose lines land the most laughs, likely because of improv at times. Alison Brie as Unkitty is fun but limited in her scope. Nick Offerman as Metalbeard fares a little better but because the film needs to move at a brisk pace sometimes character development gets less priority than the next sequence. The eventual resolution plays at nostalgia but the build at the pinnacle of the second act is a tricky essence to write out of. It uses 80s strategy in terms of balance despite plot holes. Ultimately “Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is fun but not very transformative.


By Tim Wassberg