There Will Be Blood and Bad Sweaters: “Observe and Report” Review

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



  1. zilla your assessment of this movie was fucking on point. i came out of the theater thinking jesus tapdancing christmas this was so not what i expected… and it felt pretty damn good to feel that way. i was on the fence about seth rogen. i mean i love all those judd apatow shits and the show undeclared captured the college experience to the fucking letters, but there’s something about how his characters always have their preachy bitch fit moments that just kinda turns me off. seeing him play such an unstable HEAD of mall security who bludgeons 10 year old kids with their own skateboards was a drastic leap from his usual let’s get high and get girls pregnant or go on overtly gay adventures with james franco movies and i like him even more for doing so.

    when i saw danny mcbride as that lispy crack dealer in the observe and report preview i knew i was payin out some hard earned cash moneys to go see this. his portrayal of kenny powers on eastbound and down makes me laugh so goddam i can’t even put it into words. if you haven’t seen all six episodes of that show you need it in your life immediately…or you’re fuckin out. jody hill, ben best, and david gordon greene all have a hand in theshow along with will farrell and adam mckay. toooooo much fun.

    oh yeah and that fucking terminator preview looked bad ass. i dare say i’m looking forward to that more than anything else coming out this summer. i’ll be at the movies blunt and bottle of booze in hand on opening night for that one.

  2. saw it tonight — hilarious.

    that said i did also like “Pineapple Express” and “Knocked Up.” especially “Pineapple Express,” maybe the funniest movie i saw last year

  3. Ben:

    Thanks, bro! I didn’t want to spoil the Danny McBride cameo, but he could read a grocery list and make it funny.


    I thought people didn’t like “Pineapple Express” as much as they should have. Great movie as well. I just think people might have this one-sided perception of Seth Rogen walking into this movie and it will be rightfully shattered.

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