Movie Review: Observe and Report

Movie Review: Observe and Report

Observe and Report
Observe and Report

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Directed By: Jody Hill

Starring: Seth Rogen, Ray Liotta, Michael Peña, Michael Peña, Anna Faris, Dan Bakkedahl, John Yuan, Matt Yuan, Celia Weston, Collette Wolfe

Plot Synopsis:

At the Forest Ridge Mall, head of security Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) patrols his jurisdiction with an iron fist. The master of his domain, he combats skateboarders, shoplifters and the occasional unruly customer while dreaming of the day when he can swap his flashlight for a badge and a gun.Ronnie’s delusions of grandeur are put to the test when the mall is struck by a flasher. Driven by his personal duty to protect and serve the mall and its patrons, Ronnie seizes the opportunity to showcase his underappreciated law enforcement talents on a grand scale, hoping his solution of this crime will earn him a coveted spot at the police academy and the heart of his elusive dream girl Brandi (ANNA FARIS), the hot make-up counter clerk who won’t give him the time of day. But his single-minded pursuit of glory launches a turf war with the equally competitive Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) of the Conway Police, and Ronnie is confronted with the challenge of not only catching the flasher, but getting him before the real cops. (Warner Bros. Pictures)


Seth Rogen may be played out in some people’s minds, however I love the guy and think he has plenty of steam left.  Jody Hill’s Observe and Report gives Rogen a platform to give us something different.  A hero that’s not perfect, kind of creepy and someone who makes morally compromising choices.  The description of Observe and Report as “Taxi Driver meets Paul Blart: Mall Cop” may seem a bit strange, but that’s probably the only way you could describe this strange, dark, offensive and, yes, hilarious film.

Observe and Report is a hard movie to review.  It isn’t for everyone and if you get offended easily, go enjoy a predictable and safe Paul Blart: Mall Cop.  In Observe and Report, Seth Rogen plays a bi-polar Head of Mall Security at Forest Ridge Mall, Ronnie Barnhardt.  He’s delusional, rude and selfish, yet he cares about being the best at what he does.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, Seth Rogen goes to some dark places in this movie.  It’s all in character and totally in context with the film.  There was some controversy with an alleged “Date Rape” scene, but in context it works and all controversy was sparked from people who hadn’t seen or understood this film.  If this was Paul Blart, yes the scene would be unwarranted and wrong.  However, with the two characters involved and in context of the movie it works and yes, it’s supposed to be slightly disturbing.  I won’t explain any further.  See the film for yourself and we’ll discuss.

The supporting cast is a handful of memorable and quirky characters.  It’s fun to see Ray Liotta playing it straight as the detective (although his plastic surgery has made him a bit scary.) The most memorable supporting performance, though, goes to Michael Peña who is usually brilliant in dramatic roles.  Here, he is Ronnie’s unassuming right hand man.  It’s fun seeing Michael Peña stretch his legs with the comedic.  Also, Anna Faris is darkly hilarious as the cosmetic counter girl and Ronnie’s “love interest,” Brandy.  She is cute and vile at the same time, totally someone you love to hate.

Finally, I need to give major props to Collette Wolfe.  I’ve never seen her in anything before, and in a movie full of mean spirited characters she is the heart and soul of the film, Nell.  She is not in the film that much, but whenever her character is on the screen, she is extremely likeable and sweet.  In fact, she kind of plays the emotional anchor of the film and I don’t think I would have liked the film if she was any other character.

In closing, Observe and Report is the bravest and most hilarious comedy of the summer.  While it’s not for broad audiences, it’s a movie that will have a very long shelf life, and one I’ll be revisiting frequently.

Rated R for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence.