Thursday, April 16, 2009

Review: Observe and Report

Grade: C

Observe and Report is a dark comedy about bi-polar mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt, played by Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Pineapple Express), who is on a mission to find the identity of a flasher who showed up and exposed himself to numerous women and bring him to justice. The mall calls in the assistance of the police and that’s when Detective Harrison, played by Ray Liotta (Wild Hogs, Goodfellas), shows up to help solve these cases. Ronnie is convinced that he doesn’t need the police’s help to solve the cases and tries to solve them himself in hopes of impressing the make-up counter girl Brandi, played by Anna Farris (Just Friends, Scary Movie series). Along the way he decides to try to become an actual cop which just angers and irritates Detective Harrison.

This movie has received some bad rap because it is in fact the second mall cop related movie coming out this year. While this is technically true the two movies are completely different. While Paul Blart was about a loveable mall cop trying to defend his mall against a gang of thugs, Observe and Report is about a bi-polar sociopathic mall cop who thinks that he is THE line between good and evil and will do anything to bring a flasher to justice. Also to put it simply, Paul Blart was rated PG and a family movie, Observe and Report is rated R and about as unfamily friendly as it gets.

This movie walks the line between funny and offensive, so it’s definitely not for everyone. For instance, there is a scene where Ronnie is having sex with a seemingly unconscious Brandi, but it plays out so carefully that it actually seems unintentional and probably consensual. This scene will make many people laugh yet feel uncomfortable and will probably anger others. There are scenes with his mother that help make Ronnie seem more human but yet his mother’s alcoholism and seemingly deteriorating state of mind and being, while good for a cheap laugh every once in a while, makes it all seem so pathetic and again kind of awkward and uncomfortable.

Seth Rogen did a fantastic job as the lead character which is actually a bit of a step out of the norm compared to his usual roles. He actually manages to make you sympathize with this deranged character. Ronnie Barnhardt is very reminiscent of the infamous character Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. In fact, a lot of the movie plays out a bit like Taxi Driver in a mall. The only word I have to describe his character and most of the movie is irrational. His characters irrationality can be explained by his bi-polar disorder and the fact that he stops taking his medication. He does well when everything is going well for him, but as soon as something changes he’ll snap. The rest of the movies irrationality does not have an explanation, like how does he interfere with a police investigation and suffer no consequences. I would like to discuss more but will not give away anymore of the movie for those who want to see it. I will say that the ending is a bit of a shock and I still don’t completely know how I feel about it, much like Taxi Driver.

Observe and Report is far from perfect, but it tries to be something more than a silly comedy and it is a nice change away from the usual comedies that have come out lately. It is darker in tone and while it didn’t have as many laughs as I had hoped for, it does have a nice commentary about out world today. This movie is worth the time and money and will probably be a subject of debate. I do commend Jody Hill, Seth Rogen and crew for taking such a big risk with a movie like this. I also am beginning to love WB more and more for taking bigger and bigger risks with movies like this and the huge risk they took with Watchmen and several others. I recommend this movie to everybody who has a sense of humor, if you are overly sensitive; do not see this movie because I don’t want to hear your complaints.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your review Michael. If I was thinking about going to see this movie, I would use your review to help me make my decision