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7 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Observe and Report
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Mel Valentin

"A (legendary) hero in his own mind."
4 stars

Writer-actor Seth Rogen seems to be everywhere these days. Just two weeks ago, Rogen provided the voice for one of the characters in DreamWorks Animation’s latest film, "Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D." Last year, Rogen starred in two films, "Pineapple Express," which he also wrote, and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" for writer-director Kevin Smith ("Clerks I and II," "Dogma," "Chasing Amy"). Two years ago, Rogen broke through as a writer and actor in "Knocked Up" and "Superbad." This week, he’s back in Jody Hill’s ("The Foot Fist Way") second film, "Observe an Report," a comedy-drama that, at least superficially, resembles "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," a surprise hit released three months ago. "Observe and Report" will surprise moviegoers with its dark (as in “black hole dark”) humor and unflinching, caustic satire of the American male psyche and our preoccupation with violence.

Observe and Report centers on Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen), the head of mall security at the Forest Ridge Mall (presumably in New Mexico, where Observe and Report was shot). Barnhardt, an action hero in his own mind and bi-polar in everyone else’s, runs mall security with the help of his best friend and second-in-command, Dennis (Michael Peña), the sycophantic Yuen brothers, John (John Yuan) and Matt (Matt Yuan), who Barnhardt refers to as in “infantry” (as in lose one and the spare will take his place), and a mall security guard wannabe, Charles (Jesse Plemons). When they’re not patrolling the mall, Barnhardt and the Yuen brothers take out their real and imagined frustrations at a firing range. In a typically self-delusionary excuse, Barnhardt expects to receive permission to carry firearms at work (he won’t, of course). Until then, Barnhardt and his security staff make due with batons and tasers.

At the mall, Barnhardt openly lusts for Brandi (Anna Faris), a slutty, bottle-blonde, cosmetics salesperson. Brandi won’t give him the time of day (or night, for that matter). When Barnhardt’s not working at the mall or hanging out with the Yuen brothers at the firing range, he’s spending quality time with his alcoholic mother (Celia Weston). When, however, a serial flasher brandishes his flaccid penis in front of Brandi, Barnhardt sees the opportunity of a lifetime: catch the flasher and win Brandi’s affection. Mall management, however, calls in the police who, in turn, send Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) to investigate the case. While the self-deluded Barnhardt tries to wrest control of the case from Harrison, seemingly unrelated burglaries hit the mall. As with the flasher, Barnhardt sees the burglaries as a chance to make a name for himself and impress the impressionable Brandi.

As both Hill and Rogen have mentioned in interviews, Hill relied on Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader’s Taxi Driver as the template for Observe and Report, from to the self-deluded, self-aggrandizing, mentally ill anti-hero’s attitude toward real and imagined corruption, to his bumbling, awkward pursuit of an idealized woman out of his league, to the voiceover narration that prepares Barnhardt (and the audience) for the seemingly final confrontation against the (imaginary) forces of evil, and the violent, occasionally nauseating, one-step-short-of-a-bloodbath beatdowns that Rogen’s Barnhardt gives and receives throughout Observe and Report. He thinks he’s already an action hero in an action film. He’s just waiting for the right moment to express his inner action hero. No amount of public humiliation can derail Barnhardt.

Observe and Report unsurprisingly deserves its “R” rating, and not just for the typical profanity, vulgarity, and gross-out gags we’ve come to expect from Rogen’s films (which appear here in their usual abundance), but from the depictions of violence. The beatdowns in Observe and Report are brutal, disquieting, repulsive, and excessive, so excessive in fact that you can’t help but respond with nervous, uncomfortable laughter, but the beatdowns also reflect Hill’s critique of our morbid fascination with violence. If, after all, we identify with a self-deluded, if sympathetic (and pathetic) character, as some audience members did more than 30 years ago with Taxi Driver, then we’re also, at least to some extent, identifying with his desires to unleash violence on his (imagined) oppressors.

That critical attitude runs all the way through "Observe and Report." With the exception of a mall worker, Nell (Collette Wolfe), with a not-so-secret crush on Barnhardt (even that makes her, at best self-deluded about his finer qualities), the characters in "Observe and Report" are depicted as self-serving, self-interested, small-minded, and incapable of meaningful personal change. At best, they’re capable of minimal, superficial change, like Barnhardt’s acid-tongued, alcoholic mother or, of course, Barnhardt. In that, Hill again follows "Taxi Driver," leaving his protagonist with his delusions of grandeur intact, ready to over-react to the next seemingly innocuous incident that calls his image of himself into doubt.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18073&reviewer=402
originally posted: 04/10/09 01:49:45
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/24/18 morris campbell crude but very funny 4 stars
6/11/11 Merle It was not too bad but could have been made better. 3 stars
5/26/11 Marsha Dimes Unmitigated Schlock! 1 stars
4/07/11 Josie Cotton is a goddess An underrated black-comedy that satires the stupidity of mindless machoism 5 stars
5/14/10 Dan Like a weird, violent Napoleon Dynamite. 4 stars
3/14/10 mr.mike Paul Blart becomes Travis Bickle. It doesn't work. 2 stars
3/08/10 Chocha Apretada Deelish, honey! 1 stars
1/10/10 Tekin A brilliant film.Dark disturbing funny sad take on the avarage man's quest for glory. 5 stars
9/25/09 blah really stupid, poorly put together movie. very disappointing 1 stars
6/05/09 Meredith Harshaw Nearest thing to a "good bad movie" since DUDE, WHERE IS MY CAR. 3 stars
5/06/09 Barns Loved it, miles ahead of the brainless "Mall Cop" 5 stars
4/19/09 Panocha.de.la.Vaca How ugly is Seth Rogen....UGGGGGGGGGLY! 1 stars
4/18/09 belike I think anyone who can relate to ronnies character will appreciate this film. 5 stars
4/17/09 chief boot knocka ''I use tasers and mace, fuck you!'' - great fucking movie. 5 stars
4/17/09 Kong Kardashian It wuz da bomb...Seth can boff me ne time! 4 stars
4/15/09 Ju Mex Perfect. 5 stars
4/14/09 Diarrhea Slitz What has happened to Anna Faris' face? She looks OLD! 1 stars
4/14/09 Apollo Such a horrible, stupid, waste of film. I hated it. 1 stars
4/13/09 Aesop This is like "Mall Cop", only less funny. Can we award negative stars?? 1 stars
4/12/09 John No one cares enough about this site to 'plant' a comment That's funny. 1 stars
4/11/09 Kara Ponchada What a piece of schlock! 1 stars
4/10/09 Kork.Klogz If you're the type of person who thinks "date rape" is funny, then this is the film 4 u. 1 stars
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  10-Apr-2009 (R)
  DVD: 22-Sep-2009


  DVD: 22-Sep-2009

Directed by
  Jody Hill

Written by
  Jody Hill

  Seth Rogen
  Anna Faris
  Michael Pena
  Ray Liotta
  Jesse Plemons

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