Patton Oswalt’s improvised Star Wars filibuster kills it on Parks and Rec

(Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly)

(Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly)

BY SCOTT PHILLIPS

I don’t know how, but somehow, NBC’s Parks and Recreation just keeps getting better. Some on the Poor Scholars staff, myself included, recognize the greatness of Parks and Rec, but hopefully others will join in on the fun after seeing Patton Oswalt’s EPIC 8-minute Star Wars-themed filibuster that he did as a cameo for this week’s episode.

For the uninformed, Parks and Recreation is about the parks and recreation department — and government — of the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. Pawnee, like any town in America, has citizens with old-timey values and in this episode, as main character Leslie Knope (played brilliantly by Amy Poehler) attends to her duties as a city councilwoman,  a Pawnee citizen played by Oswalt enacts a citizen filibuster to hold the floor and prevent a vote from taking place.

Oswalt proceeds to go on an epic one-take, 8-minute — completely improvised — rant where he gives his plot outline for the new Star Wars movie (with some help from the Marvel Universe and others).

The rant has many fantastic bits and lines, but I first want to point out the audience in the background. These are paid extras and they do a magnificent job mostly keeping a straight face and adding in bits of small acting for those that watch the video multiple times. Some extras will yawn or show mock outrage at Patton’s statements. The two dudes in the back row over Patton’s left shoulder have their mouths covered some of the time as if to patiently wait and listen, but I think they’re just trying to contain laughter by covering their faces.

The camera will occasionally pan in for a closeup on Patton as the rant continues and this is done with purpose as well. While Patton is engaging the audience with his impassioned rant on second-tier Marvel characters and possible love triangles with Lando, Leia and Han Solo, it shows Patton’s intensity but it’s also done because some of the background citizens are slowly beginning to crack and smile. The close-up either eliminates these people from the frame (I’m looking at you, guy second from the left in the front row) or blurs out their faces (back row laughers).

Oswalt’s actual performance is killer for a number of reasons:

1. It brilliantly plays on the current events of Rand Paul’s filibuster and the potential of a gun control filibuster. For a silly mockumentary on local government, Parks and Rec has some underrated (and brilliant) government satire.

2. Nerd comedy can be a bit touchy for fans of certain subcultures, but Patton Oswalt brilliantly adds small details, plot points, hell, even camera angles and shots for the movie in his rant. Hard not to find it enjoyable.

3. Whenever Leslie tries to talk, Patton’s refusal to acknowledge her while raising his voice. Hilarious.

4. This following paragraph of the rant sums up plenty:

“(Tony Stark) then starts to assemble the cream of the Marvel Universe — NOT — not the second-tier superheroes we saw in the first Avengers movie. I’m sorry, Hawkeye and Black Widow are not first-tier. He would go find — HE-LLO!? — Spiderman; Spiderman exists in that universe. He would go find Moon Knight. He would go find Daredevil. He would go find Hercules and then that would bring in the entire pantheon of Greek gods that we saw in Clash and Wrath of the Titans. So now we have a giant three-franchise tie-in.”

5. Patton’s continued focus while everyone starts to leave the room and he’s still going strong on his plot.

6. “Lando Calrissian was like, ‘Hey, if I’m going to lose the Millennium Falcon to you I’ll just take your woman,’ and he HAS!”

7. The producers of Parks and Rec gave Patton Oswalt the greenlight on ANY subject matter for this filibuster and this shot and he went with this rant and destroyed it.

Kudos, Patton Oswalt and Parks and Rec. I’m curious to see which lines make the actual episode tonight and I also wish more shows would tease episodes with guest improv spots like this. I think this could be a thing. An awesome thing.

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