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Review: Observe and Report

Observe and Report
04.10.2009
7 10

PLOT: Ronnie Barnhardt is a Mall Cop. He hates his life and finds little meaning in any of it. Although he is finally given hope when a flasher gives the girl behind the make-up counter a surprise attack. Meaning he jerks it a little while using her for his captivated audience. Soon, Ronnie has made it his mission to stop the pervert. Yet, when Bernhardt can’t seem to find the culprit, the local law enforcement are called in, leaving Ronnie battling for his own sort of self redemption… and hopefully, the gratitude of Brandi.

REVIEW: With THE FOOT FIST WAY, Jody Hill created a dark, funny and less than flattering look at a pathetic Tae Kwon Do instructor. In a time when most comedies are from an Apatowian world (which I tend to be happy about), it was still nice to see something so middle American enriched. There were certainly comparisons to NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, but Mr. Hill’s voice was much more interesting. What he did there, and continues to do with his latest OBSERVE AND REPORT, is create politically incorrect humor with a large dose of satire. Many an average audience may find something offensive or inappropriate in these films. But the beauty is, he is not just creating that kind of environment for the sake of shock, he is being honest to the kind of character he is writing. But with that, comes a realization that his films are not laugh out loud funny, in fact, they are sometimes pretty damn depressing.

Observe and Report has much of that same humor that Foot Fist offers. So if you were not a fan of that film, it is highly unlikely that you will love this one. Seth Rogen’s Ronnie Barnhardt is a miserable and weak minded Mall Cop with an alcoholic mother (Celia Weston). The woman freely lets her son know that daddy left because of him. He is taking medication to keep himself balanced and he has a whole lot of trouble keeping his life in order. It isn’t until a vicious flasher gives Ronnie’s beautiful yet vapid co-worker a show she’ll never forget. Ronnie sincerely wants to help the lovely Brandi (Anna Faris) with her masturbating pervert still on the loose. But sadly, as pathetic as Ronnie is, Brandi is by far the worse for wear. She is empty and devoid of any decency. And Ms. Faris is quite terrific in the role. She has no problems with you hating Brandi and that makes it fun for the whole family watching this loser of a hero try and be her knight in shining armor.

Like any good “hero”, Ronnie is given major competition when a real life officer of the law comes to the rescue. Detective Harrison has little to no respect for this ridiculous security guard. This is a battle of wills that end ups in a surprisingly violent battle between police and Ronnie. In many ways, Observe & Report pushes harder than Foot Fist. It is crude, offensive and features full frontal male nudity that I guarantee will please almost nobody… no offense to Randy Gimball as the “pervert”. But as a character driven black comedy, this is a much needed assault on the PC world of today. There are people very much like almost everyone involved in Ronnie’s life. But that is where the humor lies, and if you have trouble finding the funny in self loathing and a miserable existence, you may not really find this entertaining.

While Seth Rogen and Anna Faris are both wonderfully cast, the rest of the actors really add an extra layer of enjoyment. I am so happy to see Ray Liotta in a role like this. He is a terribly underappreciated actor who never quite gets the roles he should. In many ways, he is much more likable than the leading man, but we soon find his character to be pretty despicable as the story progresses. And Liotta truly seems to enjoy playing him. He is a solid actor and brings a real sense of truth to Harrison. I also have to single out Celia Watson as Ronnie’s mom. This may be one of the worst mothers of all time. She is a massive alcoholic who has no qualms about telling her son that she is proud of him, even if he is kind of an idiot. She steals almost every scene she is in, even when she is passed out drunk on the floor. Jody Hill really knows how to cast a film, down to the supporting roles as all the casting choices are picture perfect.

While there is a whole lot of good within Observe and Report, I do have a couple of issues. As much as I like Mr. Hill as a writer and director, the pacing sometimes feels a bit off. The funny is really funny, but there were moments where I felt like it is taking much too long to get to the point. You see it coming, but you are left waiting for it to finally arrive. But when it hits, it usually works out in spite of that. And while many may complain about the violence, I didn’t mind it at all. Partially because it sometimes feels forced and oftentimes unbelievable. Once in awhile, you see the punch pulled and it is not hard to forget you are watching a staged sequence of kickin’ arse. But this is a comedy, so maybe that is not necessarily a terrible thing. I did however cringe (in a good way) as a young group of vandals learn that skateboarding can seriously mess you up.

For Jody Hill, this latest offering is a stronger feature than Foot Fist. Yet the previous film had a bit more going for it in the originality department. And no, I am not comparing this to Paul Blart as it is crystal clear that neither film inspired the other. I guess it was just the right time for Mall Cops to get respect. But with O & R, I laughed quite a bit, and I welcomed the very un-PC humor sprinkled throughout. As a filmgoer, if you are easily offended and prefer a more straightforward comedy, I don’t recommend this. It is far from safe and it will probably not be fun times for you. But if you appreciate a dark humor that revels in the underbelly of Suburbia and how some bi-polar Security Officer deals with his coping issues, this is the movie for you. My rating 7.5/10 -- JimmyO

Source: JoBlo.com

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