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Top Five Movies of Aubrey Plaza

I can’t think of a way to write the thesis to this essay without sounding sexist or homophobic. No, this is not a case where I am asking, “Is this racist?” but rather a limitation in our language. Here goes.

I think that the importance of comedic straight actors is often overlooked.

plaza3See? What I mean to say is, I think that the importance of comedic straight men is often overlooked, which is better as far as the comedic definition of “straight” is, but doesn’t include in “men” the wonderful talents of Aubrey Plaza. I think actor can be gender neutral, but even that is a bit of a qualified use, depending on the audience. So, for this particular essay, consider “straight actor” to mean “comedic straight men of both sexes” so that I don’t have to qualify every sentence going forward or use a lot of slashes.

I think the television show “Parks and Recreation” has two of the best straight actors in the business in Aubrey and Adam Scott. What makes a great straight actor is the ability to stand unruffled as the craziness around them escalates rapidly. Examples that leap into my head are Bud Abbott in “Who’s on First,” any one way phone conversation by Bob Newhart, and John Cleese in the sketch that opens, “I’d like to have an argument please.”

Of course, in “Parks and Recreation,” most all of the recurring cast plays straight actors in regards to the rest of Pawnee and they all do it well, especially Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. Conversely, sometimes the town plays the straight actor to the craziness that spills forth from the Pawnee Parks Department. That allows Aubrey and Adam Scott to occasionally play crazy as Janet Snakehole or the nervous kid mayor on Perd Hapley’s show. (Or virtually any other Monty Python member in the previous argument link.) It’s nice to see good straight actors get that chance to go a little nuts. In Aubrey’s movie career, just like in “Parks and Recreation” there is a lot of straight and a hint of wacky in these five movies.

5. A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III

It took me a bit to decide between this one and “10 Years.” While “10 Years” has fellow “Parks and Recreation” star Chris Pratt and former subject Ari Graynor, “Charles Swan” has former subject Mary Elizabeth Winstead and the ultimate trump card, Bill Murray. As GZA put it best, “Bill mother-fucking Murray.”

4. Mystery Team

From the Derrick Comedy team (Donald Glover, DC Pierson and Dominic Dierkes), this movie explores what happens to kid crime solvers when they grow up. (The detective, like the doctor and the lawyer, seems to be a job staple in all forms of entertainment from 8 to 80. Note to self, write kid lawyer pilot.) The cast also contains a number of recognizable faces from NBC Thursday besides Aubrey and Glover.

3. Damsels in Distress

Thinking of Greta Gerwig, I still need to see “Frances Ha.” I keep putting it off because it means that I have to wait that much longer for my next movie theater Greta fix.

2. Safety Not Guaranteed

This movie is available on Netflix and I recommend sitting down and watching it now. Jake Johnson (“New Girl”), Mark Duplass (“The League”) and Aubrey all make this view of reporting, friendship, loneliness and creativity outside the norm well worth watching.

1. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Ranking this movie #1 again gives me the chance to mention past subject Mary Elizabeth Winstead again and then add future subjects Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Ellen Wong, Brie Larson and Mae Whitman.

Agree? Disagree? Which movies would make your Aubrey Plaza top five?

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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