Matt Pais, @mattpais
RedEye movie critic
9:15 PM CDT, July 29, 2014
Though it wasn’t Chris Pratt’s first big-time exposure—he did nine episodes of “The O.C.,” apparently—the first thing I remember seeing him in was “Bride Wars,” the miserable 2009 comedy that led to nothing more than people discovering new levels of annoyance with Anne Hathaway. It’s hard to think Pratt’s part in that disaster contributed to him landing the starring role of Peter Quill in the highly anticipated comic book adaptation “Guardians of the Galaxy,” opening Friday.
Here are five roles that probably had a lot more to do with the suddenly-muscular actor’s rise to stardom.
“Parks and Recreation” (2009-)
Obviously. Pratt may always be known as Andy Dwyer, who in lesser hands could have been a mere buffoon. Pratt constantly finds the heart beneath Andy’s abundant foolishness and makes his enthusiasm seem admirable, rather than a symptom of his ignorance.
The movie gets more credit than it deserves—Jonah Hill’s Oscar nomination should forever puzzle us all—but Pratt flexed his dramatic abilities as Scott Hatteberg, asked to move from catcher to first base for the Oakland A’s. Some funny actors define drama only as getting quieter; Pratt knows how to make those moments real.
“The Five-Year Engagement” (2012)
As Alex, who goes from unreliable troublemaker to responsible father, Pratt got to create a character with an actual trajectory. He did it effectively and concisely, even if Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt), and the movie overall, took a long time to get to the point.
“Zero Dark Thirty” (2012)
He was an unlikely choice as a member of SEAL Team Six, responsible for killing Osama bin Laden. It shouldn’t be overlooked, however, that at no point in the excellent “Zero Dark Thirty” do you say to yourself, “Hey, look, Chris Pratt wants to kill bin Laden.” Both he and the movie crackle with authenticity.
He didn’t have to do a whole lot outside of sitting at a desk near Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and going on a picnic for a double-date with his colleague and Theodore’s OS girlfriend (Scarlett Johansson). But once again, Pratt took a comic-relief part and turned him into a person.
Bonus: “The Lego Movie” (2014)
Though it was just his voice, Pratt was hilarious in his other starring role this year, and the movie was awesome.
5 others that didn’t help
“Jennifer’s Body” (2009)
“Take Me Home Tonight” (2011)
“What’s Your Number?” (2011)
“Movie 43” (2013)
“Delivery Man” (2013)
Watch Matt review the week's big new movies Fridays at noon on NBC.
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