Observe and Report
first glance, at least, Observe and Report seems to be a mirror image
of Kevin James’ surprise January hit Paul Blart:
After all, Observe and Report is about an overweight security guard
at a suburban shopping mall who is unable to become a real policeman. He
takes his responsibilities way too seriously. He lives with his mother. He
has a silent crush on a pretty girl who works in the mall. Finally, his
true mettle is tested when crime infringes on his little world and he must
protect the mall from the scourge of outside danger, all while dealing with
a policeman who he feels is the competition.
However, even if their storylines are disturbingly similar, in execution the
films could not be more different. Blart was a kid-friendly light
comedy. The character was mostly a lovable loser. The romance with the
mall worker was rather sweet. The violence was cartoonish and mostly
Observe and Report,
on the other hand, is a much darker, more adult film. Our main character is
not merely a likable, misunderstood fuck-up. He is severely delusional and
often appears to be borderline insane. The object of his affection is
alcoholic, stupid, vapid, bitchy and sleeps around. The violence is ramped
up significantly as well.
Written and directed by Jody Hill, who has been honing his own individual
style, comedy of the distasteful, with two Danny McBride projects - the
movie The Foot Fist Way and HBO sitcom Eastbound and Down
(McBride has a cameo here as a drug dealer) – Observe and Report
certainly looks more professionally made than either of those, but it also
pulls some punches that those two never would.
Hill’s specialty seems to be the comedy of shock. While some of this is
undeniably very funny in an in-your-face kind of way, many audiences will
probably recoil from much that they see.
Rogen (making what must be his fiftieth film appearance in the last few
years) plays Ronnie Barnhardt, the rent-a-cop in question. He lives with
his mother (Celia Weston) an alcoholic who regularly passes out on her son.
has a crush on a busty-but-dumb cosmetics counter girl who obviously can’t
stand him – played by Anna Faris, who is really taking one for the team in
playing this role. Faris has never been shy about playing unlikable
characters, however this takes it to near surreal levels. A single scene
may forever change her image, one where Rogen is humping an apparently
passed out Faris. When he notices dried vomit on her pillow he checks to
see if she’s okay, but she berates him, without even opening her eyes, “Why
you stopping, motherfucker?”
one place that Ronnie deludes himself that he has complete control is in the
mall. He has a group of underlings that he can push around. Ronnie patrols
the mall looking for any tomfoolery.
a flasher exposes himself to some women at the mall and there is a series of
nighttime store robberies, the local cops are called in. Detective Harrison
(Ray Liotta) automatically becomes the enemy to Ronnie and he is determined
to solve the cases on his own.
course, it turns out that Ronnie is completely inept at this kind of
investigation, but even though Det. Harrison eventually snaps and tells him
off, in Ronnie’s head he is on the way to a life of crime fighting, even to
the point of trying to become a real cop.
While Observe and Report has a lot of interesting moments, I think it
was pretty much summed up by a single line by a supporting character. One
of the cops hides in Lt. Hamilton’s closet to watch as the cop breaks the
news to Ronnie that he will not be getting into the Police Academy – hoping
the security guard will melt down. Instead, Ronnie tries to bargain and beg
his way in, at which time the cop steps out of his hiding place. “I thought
this would be kind of funny,” he says, “but it’s actually kind of sad.”
Truth is I left the theater kind of feeling the same way.
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: April 11, 2009.