‘Observe and Report’ - I did - not good

Tue, 04/14/2009 - 3:13pm
By: Michael Boylan


You’ve seen the ads on television with the praise from critics in big letters. It’s Seth Rogen in an R-rated “mall cop” movie. It has to be funny, right? I mean, ‘Paul Blart’ was fine, but that was for the kids. If you added profanity, nudity and adult themes to ‘Paul Blart,’ why you’d just about have the perfect movie, right?



First off, this isn’t just ‘Blart’ with swears. ‘Observe and Report’ has a much darker storyline and not one compelling character to root for.

Seth Rogen stars as Ronnie, the head of mall security. He is a verbally abusive, hot head who sees the emergence of a flasher in the mall parking lot and a robbery at a shoe store as his chance to shine. He hopes that he will become a hero in the eyes of cosmetics saleswoman Brandi (Anna Faris) but a police officer played by Ray Liotta is ruining his chances. When Ronnie decides that maybe he’s ready to try and get in the police academy he stops taking his medication (he’s bi-polar) and things really spill out of control.

Secondly, there is a lot of swearing in this movie. Now, I have no problem with profanity (heck, my wife and kids can tell you that - just kidding) but the level of profanity in this movie is ridiculous. I will grant you that bad language makes sense for some characters in some situations, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be every other word. It almost feels like the profanity is meant to be the joke and that doesn’t work here. Ronnie is almost constantly swearing, which for a bi-polar guy living a fairly meaningless existence with an alcoholic mom might make sense, but the fact that everybody just tolerates it (including his boss) is just stupid. Ronnie gets away with way too much bad behavior to be believable.

I also had this problem with “Eastbound and Down,” an HBO series from the people behind “Observe and Report.” There is no way that somebody could speak or treat people this way and still be employed or considered employable. It made even less sense in “Eastbound and Down,” because the main character, Kenny Powers, worked at a middle school. Where that show succeeded though and where “Observe and Report” fails is that Kenny Powers is played like a joke. The audience is rooting for Powers to fail and to continue his descent from the major leagues to middle school gym coach (and lower). As for Ronnie, I think the audience is supposed to root for him and I found that impossible. If not, they are expected to view the second half of this movie like “Taxi Driver,” where the protaganist goes crazy and terrible things happen. That kind of happens in “Observe and Report” and yet they make a last-ditch attempt to redeem Ronnie and give him the things he was looking for.

There are some interesting elements to this movie and some performances do stand out. Rogen, out of his likable schlub persona, does a solid job, even though his character is nauseating and unlikable. Liotta is great as the cop who can’t stand Ronnie and Michael Pena as Ronnie’s second in command has some good lines and they are delivered with a funny voice.

Overall, this is not a movie that I can recommend to anyone. There is not enough to like and it may turn you off some actors who do and have done quality work in other projects, particularly Danny McBride who cameos as a crack dealer in one scene in the film.

I expect much better things from Rogen this summer in Judd Apatow’s “Funny People” and I hear McBride is fantastic in “Land of the Lost.” Now, if someone would just please give Anna Faris the film she deserves. “The House Bunny” was close, but not close enough.

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