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Observe and Report (2009)

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Score: 8/10

Genre: Crime Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 26 min.

Release Date: April 10th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Jody Hill Actors: Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Michael Pena, Ray Liotta, Jesse Plemons

A

rrogant. Delusional. Trigger-happy. Bipolar. These words don’t often describe a hero, but in the world of “Observe and Report,” these characteristics reveal a protagonist who lives by a code of honor so nearly incomprehensible that it blurs the line between right and wrong, justice and vigilantism, disturbing and humorous. Somehow, it all works, as Seth Rogen’s driving performance embodies seriousness and commitment to a vision so morbidly dark and yet so diabolically funny. Though its degree of vulgarities will likely repulse many, director Jody Hill’s sophomore effort revels in its rebellious nature and entertains with an unpredictably pitch black brand of humor.

Compelled by delusions of grandeur and his own twisted sense of honor, Head of Security Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) relentlessly pursues the forces of evil that attempt to disrupt the harmony found within the Forest Ridge Mall. When a flasher begins terrorizing women in the parking lot, including promiscuous counter girl Brandi (Anna Faris), Ronnie takes it upon himself to apprehend the deviant before real police officer Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) can solve the case. The world needs a hero, and Ronnie is determined to become just that.

“Observe and Report” is like Paul Blart on crack… and weed and pills and heroin. It’s a brutally unexpected twist on lighthearted comedy, substituting typical risqué humor with raucous coarseness and hallucinogenic morbidity. It succeeds because of a serious approach to everything, from the characters to the subject matter, regardless of how ridiculous the individual events. There are no conventional comic-relief bit-parts; every role is severe, even when comically deranged chaos ensues. Rogen plays a persona not far removed from every other character he’s embraced, but the utterly sincere approach to his determined Rambo-esque anti-hero is genuinely hilarious, especially when it’s surrounded by unforeseeable violence, “Borat”-besting male nudity, and more montages (garnished with catchy music) than ever before seen in film.

With a scarily demented drug binge potpourri, constant psychotic illusions of majesty, perverted love during the search for a pervert, and a confused anti-hero functioning by a lawless code of his own invention, “Observe and Report” borders on schizophrenia, not always wanting to simply be a comedy. It’s temperamental but more consistent than “Pineapple Express” in its offensive humor. The egos, the overstepping of real authority, the hyperactive cursing (at little kids and from old ladies), and Ronnie’s belief in excessive vigilantism – like a realistic, unmasked, and overweight Dark Knight – make this an explosive lesson in dark, dark comedy. Faris is perfectly pouty-faced and self-obsessed, Liotta is ideally no-nonsense and grave, and Rogen is convincingly cemented in his dizzyingly erroneous self-righteousness. It is in-your-face and out-of-control, but very wickedly funny.

– The Massie Twins

 



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