April 15, 2009

Movie Review: Observe and Report

observeandreport1_largeBack in January we were treated to a film centering on a sweet-natured mall cop who wanted to be a police officer more than anything in the world. Until he could realize his dreams he worked his heart out as a mall cop, all while pining for the prettiest girl in the mall. The movie was Paul Blart: Mall Cop and it has a lot in common with the movie at hand, Observe and Report. Both central characters have similar immediate goals, and both can be quite funny; however, there is a big difference between the two, one is a very family-friendly PG, while the other is decidedly not so family-friendly with its R-rating. Which is better? You be the judge. In my eyes, the award for better film is an easy one, what is more difficult is deciding which one is more entertaining.

observeandreport1Observe and Report is a mean spirited piece of cinema that is at times laugh out loud hilarious and at others just flat out nasty. It stars Seth Rogen in what seems to be turning into his version of The Cable Guy. You know, the Jim Carrey film that took a budding superstar comedian and placed him front and center in a film that was quite dark and proved not to be what audiences were looking for. I stand firm that it was just misunderstood and is quite a good film for its time. Time will tell if Observe and Report falls into the same category. I am not so sure it will, despite the rather apt comparison of two comedians on their rise taking on riskier roles.

The story is a relatively simple one. A flasher has been terrorizing women around the mall and Ronnie (Rogen) and his crew of security misfits are determined to get to the bottom of it. However, when one of the mall employees is accosted, the police are brought in, much to the chagrin of Ronnie. You see, the victim is Brandi (Anna Faris), who also happens to be the target of Ronnie' unrequited affections and he sees any other male attention as a threat. This leads to a battle of wits (well, perhaps that should be dimwits) between Ronnie and Det. Harrison (Ray Liotta).

observeandreport2Criminal activity at the mall escalates, including burglars, vandals, and worst of all, skateboarders. Det. Harrison is called back to investigate, leading to the ridicule of Ronnie who loses his position as security chief. Ronnie is then revealed to suffer from Bi-Polar Disorder, but feels well enough to go off his medication. This only leads to heightened violence as the struggle to uncover the real offenders moves forward.

The plot is eventually wrapped up in a positive manner, but it plays out in such a way that all involved will surely be in therapy for years to come.

The experience of Observe and Report is much like last year's Step Brothers. Both films are fitfully funny, mean-spirited, and vulgar, with only barest hint of a heart buried deep within. They also share plots that are ultimately meaningless. You are sure to laugh at many parts, cringe at others, and wonder what the point is when the credits begin to roll.

observeandreport3One of my biggest problems with the movie is the way it flows. In short, it doesn't. With a runtime south of 90-minutes, there is scarcely enough time to get through the story. With so little time to play with, it appears that any connective tissue that may have been there was excised in an effort to keep the plot moving. While the story is easy to follow, it is a disjointed mess that brings a certain level of annoyance to the viewing experience.

The performances are generally all right. Rogen is Rogen, although a bit meaner than usual. His Ronnie character is somewhat interesting in his having a mental illness and his overriding machismo coloring nearly everything he does. On the other side, Ray Liotta is hilarious as he plays the detective absolutely straight without a hint of irony. Anna Faris is, well, Anna Faris, no one can play ditzy the way she can. Not to be outdone is Michael Pena, stepping away from his dramatic roots to let his comic flag fly. The guy is very funny, flamboyant, and is sure to induce a chuckle or two.

When it comes right down to it, the movie is funny, although you do need to have a little mean streak to truly enjoy it. I also suspect there is more going on under the surface than one would think for what is essentially a dumb comedy. Future viewings may reveal more than the initial theatrical ever could.

Mildly Recommended.


Post a Comment