Saturday, April 11, 2009

Report Advises Against Observing

Keeping with my top 10 to see summer movies, be sure to visit the Did I Miss Something blog for more must see gems hitting theaters this summer.

Also, for film reviews from the ’09 Philadelphia Film Festival check out EZ1 Productions Lounge and The Sho’Nuff blog over the next few weeks.


Observe and Report

Just a few months after Paul Blart: Mall Cop clubbed us over the head with its stupidity Hollywood treats us to yet another film, Observe and Report, about keeping the malls of America safe. Which begs the question at what point in history did mall security become a profession that warranted cinematic treatment? What is even more disturbing is that studios were actually competing to be the first to tell the tale. Judging by this latest trend, I wonder how long before a film about school hall-monitors gets made? I feel that their stories have been ignored long enough!

Written and directed by Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way, Eastbound and Down), Observe and Report follows Ronnie Barnhart (Seth Rogen), a man who takes his job as head of mall security a little too seriously. When a pervert starts flashing unsuspecting women, including Ronnie’s dream girl Brandi (Anna Faris), Ronnie vows to bring the perpetrator to justice by any means necessary. To make matters worse, a series of robberies have happened in the same mall. Although Ronnie believes he can solve the flasher case, his boss would rather let the official cops handle the investigation. Needless to say, Ronnie and the hotshot detective assigned to case, Harrison (Ray Liotta), butt heads immediately over both the flasher and Brandi. Ronnie soon decides that the only way to get results is to take matters into his own hands.

There is a line in the film where a fellow cop tells Ray Liotta’s character “I’m sorry, I thought this would be funny but it is just depressing.” This perfectly sums up how I felt about this film. I was rather optimistic going in, as I figured it could not be any worse than Paul Blart. Yet I found that, despite a few good laughs, this film was equally as bad as Paul Blart but for different reasons. Observe and Report is a dark comedy that does not execute either the dark aspects or the humor well. Part of the problem is that the film never really commits fully to either aspect. One minute the film is dark to the point of depressing, the next the film is resorting to juvenile “F*** Y**” jokes. The lack of focus causes the film to feel very uneven. This is especially apparent when you factor in some of the nonsensical action sequences.

It also does not help that Seth Rogen’s character is so one-dimensional that he becomes rather boring pretty fast. It is one thing for a character to be lost in their own delusions of grandeur; it is another thing for the audiences to still be able to connect with the then. Unlike other characters in dark comedies, say Billy Bob Thornton's alcoholic Willie in Bad Santa for example, there is nothing really unique or memorable about Ronnie Barnhart. The same thing can be said for Anna Faris’ Brandi, whose only real purpose was to be a ditz in a push-up bra. Anne Faris has such good comedic timing that it is perplexing that she was not given more to do in the film. The only character that was actually well suited for the tone of the film was Dennis (Michael Pena). I though Pena stole every scene he was in, as he was the perfect blend of both funny and creepy. It is as shame the rest of the components of Observe and Report could not find the same blend. While the film is slightly better than the previous mall cop movie, there still is not a whole lot to recommend here.



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