Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review - Observe and Report

A flasher is plauging a local mall and Ronnie Barnhardt the head of mall security is hellbent on catching the perpetrator. After a cosemetic counter clerk is victimized by the flasher, the local police department are called in on the case. Ronnie competes with the local detective to solve the case all the while trying to win the affection of the cosemetic counter girl.

"Observe and Report" is brutally dark and satirical, but never the less remains funny. Jody Hill's second film provides another sad tale of a pathetic loser, but she finds a way to keep the material laughable while remaining very dark in content. Most of this can be contributed to Seth Rogen and his flawless performance as Ronnie Barnhardt, the Bi-Polar head of mall security.

Seth Rogen does an amazing job of playing a total douche in "Observe and Report." Rogen's character Ronnie, is a complete ass, but Rogen makes it work time and time again with his deadpan delivery of the raunchy dialogue. Rogen's performance as Ronnie is a strange mix of an intimidating pyschotic that you ultimately feel sorry for. Within "Observe and Report" Rogen's charm tends to bleed through his abrasive character and it makes the dark and what would be un-funny in other situations, strangely laughable.

The rest of the cast helps add to Jody Hill's dark comedy by either fueling Ronnie's rage or providing hilarious moments on screen. John and Matt Yuan are particularly funny as twin brothers that are apart of the Forest Ridge Mall security team. They play well into Hill's material and compliment Rogen nicely when on screen. Patton Oswalt also provides distrubing laughs everytime of screen as the Toast A Bun manager who is constantly verbally attacking his employees. Aziz Ansari is well executed in his short scenes as a kiosk worker who Ronnie has a habit of harassing. Danny McBride, who is entertaining and well suited for Hill's dark dialogue, is hysterical in his brief role as a drug dealer.

Anna Faris, who I have never been a big fan of plays her typical part like she has in anything else she has done prior. Faris has easily fallen into the stupid blonde typecast and while she is well versed in these roles, I have grown tired of more of the same from her. Her character here is completely unlikable and simply bored me everytime on screen. Ray Liotta was also a bit of a disappointment. Liotta is an amazing actor, but here he is under utilized leaving Rogen to do all the heavy lifting. While Rogen does a capable job in his role, the film could have benefitted from more scenes with Rogen and Liotta going toe to toe. Michael Pena plays Ronnie's right hand man at the mall, but is also a disappointment from an actor whose has done strong work in the past. In Pena's defense his character is given little to do, other than follow Ronnie's lead and make a complete ass of himself.

Hill's story is nothing new and quite honestly, very closely resembles this year's Paul Blart: Mall Cop with Kevin James, with one major exception, the delivery. Both films present a middle-aged over-weight mall security cops who still live with their mothers, both characters have a dream of one day becoming police officers, but never do. The object of their affection in both films is a pretty mall employee who totally seems out of their league. Each is head of security and have nothing but morons working under them and finally both are complete an utter idiots. The difference here is Seth Rogen and the rest of the cast make "Observe and Report" a much more enjoyable film to watch. Clearly, Paul Blart: Mall Cop is made for kids and "Observe and Report" is with out a doubt, only for adult audiences, but the final result shows that dark satire wins out over slapstick humor hands down when covering the same material.

"Observe and Report" is definately not for everyone. It is a film that finds it's humor in dark situations that most would find un-funny or unlaughable. While Judd Apatow generally delivers films about lovable losers, Hill instead aims her sights on un-likable losers. What is so great about her work, is the dark dialogue and grim situations always end up making us laugh and finding a way to connect with the characters. If you are a fan of sarcasim and are not offended by alot of foul language "Observe and Report" should be right up your alley.