Chris Pratt: ‘Parks & Rec’s Butt of the Joke is the New Face of Hollywood

As the end of its sixth season draws near, NBC’s popular and critical hit Parks and Recreation has a lot of things going for it. One key thing that sets it apart from other comedies – and the reason I love it so much – is the way they’ve developed so many starkly different characters. From the carnivorous, rye, true American Ron Swanson and the over-energized health and exercise nut Chris Traeger to pro-government feminist Leslie Knope who cares too much and the antagonizing April who cares too little, P & R has someone for everyone. It also might be the first show in recent memory without a lead character no one likes (except for Jerry).

Perhaps one of the most likable is the bumbling, goofy and often unintelligent character of Andy Dwyer, played by Chris Pratt. With such an illustrious cast with impressive credits to their name, who would have guessed that Pratt would be the guy landing lead roles in outstanding films? Even more surprising, still, that despite Andy Dwyer’s strict diet of junk food, pizza and beer, is that underneath all those Dwight Shrute short-sleeve button down shirts are six-pack abs just waiting for the right blockbuster trailer to reveal themselves.

With the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy now released, it’s clear that the superhero franchise factory is giving us a much-appreciated break from their typical pool of the more well-known heroes. I’m not all that familiar with the Guardians, but from what I’ve gleaned from the trailer, once Tree Beard finishes knocking off Sauron in The Two Towers, he teams up with one of the animals from Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, then they somehow end up with the Thing’s brother and a token badass hot chick, all led by the fearsome Star Lord. Okay, so maybe I did cheat and read up on the movie on Wikipedia. What can I say? I know how to conduct thorough research.

A few months ago, I had little interest in this film judging from the name alone. I love a good alliteration just as much as the next guy running for SGA president, but Guardians of the Galaxy just sounded a little too juvenile. After seeing the trailer, my opinion has basically flipped faster than you can say, “Chris Pratt has abs. Yes, the same Chris Pratt who once ate turkey chili off a Frisbee.”

In a recent tweet, comedian Kumail Nanjiani offered his thoughts on the Parks star’s transformation: “Chris Pratt looks like he found the Captain America machine in real life.” Along with most of his fat cells, Pratt seems to have left his low IQ score on the set of P&R. From three minutes of teaser footage, he looks more than capable of anchoring a Marvel blockbuster film; his character, Star Lord, is also reminiscent of similarly irreverent, shoot-from-the-hip hero who also lived in space, played by Harrison Ford (and a lot of college girls).

Making the jump from the small screen to the big one is certainly no easy endeavor – just ask Taylor Kitsch, whose hair and muscles you may remember from Friday Night Lights, or wish you could get your money back from for seeing in Battleship, John Carter and Savages. Pratt’s foray has fared much better thus far. Starting in 2011’s Moneyball, Pratt has been in a respectable three Academy Award-nominated films, Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and Her (2013) being the other two. Now, he’s just given life to one of my favorite childhood toys (okay, adulthood too), and people finally have an animated film other than Frozen that’s worth going on and on about. But seriously, if you have not seen the LEGO movie yet, I’m judging every decision you’ve ever made.

I love Andy Dwyer on Parks and Rec, and thank him for his Grammy-snubbed power ballad ‘Bye Bye Lil Sebastian’, but it’s such a relief to know that Chris Pratt is capable of so much more. For someone who plays such a goofy character on television, Pratt certainly deserves to be taken seriously as a film actor.

Gray Gill once scrolled through all 200 pages of a girl’s Tumblr the night before their first date (they are no longer together but remain friends). He is the Online Editor for Hearth Magazine, a quarterly lifestyle magazine featuring stories on travelers, artists, and artisans. Find him on Twitter and Tumblr.

Featured image courtesy of NBC Universal