Midway through this movie, I thought to myself “I can’t even compare this to any other comedy ever made.”
Think Mallrats meets Robocop.
Better yet, Paul Blart meets Marked for Death.
Or to really capture the essence, Police Academy meets Fisher King.
This is the second film from Jody Hill. His debut film, the super cultish Foot Fist Way, didn’t exactly live up to the hype it received by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, but it did turn Danny McBride into the Next Big Thing. I was underwhelmed by that movie though I thought McBride was hilarious; it was too dark, the story was weak, and no other actors were worth a damn.
In retrospect, I actually understand and like Foot Fist Way after seeing Observe and Report. It’s the most violent, disturbing, crass, and ridiculous comedy I’ve ever seen. People who loved Seth Rogen vehicles Pineapple Express and Knocked Up should rightfully hate this movie, and they will. It’s nothing like the trailer, which paints it as Pineapple Express meets Napolean Dynamite.
There’s nothing kitschy or MTV-approved about Observe and Report, even with Anna Farris and obese identical twin Asian mall cops wearing doofy glasses. Sure it’s funny, but also vicious and demented. And my god is it graphically violent. I saw a couple people with their young children in the theater–“big mistake” to paraphrase Arnold Schwarzeneggar.
Rogen plays head of mall security Ronnie Barnhardt, son of a drunk hussy who is heavily medicated and delusional. His chance to escape banality arises when a flasher begins terrorizing female patrons at the mall. Ray Liotta largely brings nothing to the table as Ronnie’s “enemy”, a detective investigating the streaker who sets the movie in motion as well as a string of in-house mall robberies. But Liotta does manage to steal one hilarious confrontational scene, as does Patton Oswalt and Aziz Ansari of “Parks and Recreation.” Anna Farris plays Brandi the makeup girl who thinks it’s funny to call waitresses “nurse”. She’s someone you want to smack in the face after you stare at her cleavage for five minutes.
Rogen’s work as Ronnie Barnhardt really stretches his possibilities as an actor. He’s Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver early on in his mental illness, suited with a flashlight and taser patrolling Orange Julius rather than the filth-soaked streets of New York in the 70s with a gun up his sleeve. The soundtrack adds to the intense discomfort, setting the mood at an odd creepy pace for a comedy about a mentally ill mall cop. And the ending has been my favorite movie moment of 2009 thus far. I would pay $10 just to see that again.
Here’s the best compliment any movie can received: “I was I had amnesia so I could go and see it for the first time again.”–my friend Greg
4 out of 4 Stallone Claps*
*1 Stallone Clap = Stop or My Mom Will Shoot
2 Stallone Claps = Demolition Man
3 Stallone Claps = Cop Land
4 Stallone Claps = Rocky