Screenwriters: Jody Hill
Starring: Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Ray Liotta
Running time: 86 mins
Wasting the proven comedic talents of Seth Rogen and Anna Faris, Observe And Report is a vile, unfunny and shamefully dumb attempt at moviemaking. It appears to confuse random acts of violence, racism and rape with humour, while the direction makes the similarly themed 'happy slapping' clips on YouTube look like artistic masterpieces.
Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, an extremely aggressive and bigoted security guard in a shopping mall who makes it his mission to catch a flasher who has been exposing his bits to females in the vicinity. That's when Ronnie's not chasing local kids around and smashing them over their heads with their own skateboards, labelling an Asian mall worker 'Saddam Hussein' because of his skin colour, or hanging out with a pair of terribly stereotyped Oriental twins who work alongside him. Above all, he's determined to protect the vacuous Brandi, a make-up counter girl who wears a permanent scowl alongside layers of slap.
Meanwhile, Ronnie barely gives the time of day to a temporarily disabled and good-natured coffee vendor who takes a romantic shine to the guard. Guess which of the two he ends up with in the predictable climax to this cinematic atrocity? Ray Liotta also pops up as a smooth-talking and suave detective who locks horns with Ronnie, but all that needs to be said about his presence is that he really needs to find a decent agent.
Writer/director Jody Hill makes an absolute howler of a decision by trying to position Ronnie as the hapless hero of the hour who gains respect from the mall workers and police force despite his indefensible actions, which we're encouraged to laugh at and enjoy rather than abhor. The movie's nadir, for which there is a great deal of competition, arrives when Ronnie pesters and stalks Brandi until she goes on a date with him, only for her to be plied with prescription drugs and alcohol and then sh*gged senseless when she's barely able to function. Rape really isn't a laughing matter at the best of times, but its dressed up here as a bit of a cheeky endeavour from the lead character.
Dark, subversive and politically incorrect humour can be brilliant in capable hands and with the right purpose (like the wonderful South Park), but here it's offensively bereft of any wit and is simply unpleasant. To make matters worse, we're encouraged to feel empathy for Ronnie because he reveals he has a bipolar disorder and is seen struggling to contend with his alcoholic mother. Could this movie be any more of a car crash?
Rogen, with his puppy face and enthusiastic vocal mannerisms, quickly loses his likeable persona amid the wreckage of such a terribly constructed character. As for the undoubtedly talented Anna Faris, how many more brainless bimbos can she play in one career? The pair are given little chance to shine though, given Observe And Report's lacklustre and uninspired nature. The fact that several minutes of the movie's final act are spent observing the naked flasher run through the mall in slow motion just about sums up the flaccid quality of proceedings.
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