Observe And Report (2009)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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> Best Films of 2009
Overall Rating 59%
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Connections: Observe And Report

Bi-polar mall security guard Ronnie Barnhardt is called into action to stop a flasher from turning shopper's paradise into his personal peep show. But when Barnhardt can't bring the culprit to justice, a surly police detective is recruited to close the case. --IMDb
Review by Tristan
Added: August 02, 2009
At this point, I think it's no secret I'm a slobbering Seth Rogen fan. Last October saw him in one of his first roles outside of the Apatow universe in Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make A Porno. I was a little anxious going into that film knowing Smith was not big on improvisation on set, and also knowing that Rogen is praised for his ability to improv while the cameras just keep rolling. I should never have doubted Smith however, as I literally laughed the entire time I was in the theatre. A few months later, Rogen was in another film that saw him away from his regular posse and plunked down with a real Hollywood A-lister, Ray Liotta. In a film that looked like Taxi Driver meets Paul Blart: Mall Cop (two titles that should never appear in the same sentence), I was again anxious to see if Rogen could pull it off again. I am happy to report that not only did he pull it off, he did so flawlessly. In my opinion, this is the role that will define Rogen as more than just a comedic actor.

Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) is one of the security guards at Forest Ridge Mall. I'm sorry I fucked that up. He's the head of mall security. When a flasher runs through the parking lot and sexually assaults the customers, including Brandy (Anna Farris), the girl Ronnie's had his eye on for quite some time, he sees it as an opportunity to make something of himself and prove to the world that he's not just another mindless mall cop. When the mall manager brings in Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) to investigate, Ronnie feels that he has been pushed aside. Not to be outdone, he assembles his motley crew of security guards including twin brothers Matt and John Yuen (Matt and John Yuan, respectively) and the coked out, hothead Dennis (Michael Pena) to solve the case. When night time burglaries start taking place, Ronnie realizes that he'll have to put it all on the line if he wants to save his mall and earn the respect of the woman he loves before she's swept away by Harrison's charm and authority.

The one thing I love about this film, it didn't follow any conventional format whatsoever. A dark comedy rarely does. Films like Very Bad Things and Death To Smoochy are perfect examples of how great a comedy can be when it does away with the fairy tale endings and stupid gags. Take any Hollywood comedy and shave away the characters. You're left with the same tired story that is used every time someone needs to make a comedy. And to be perfectly honest, why not? It makes money, people get famous, everyone goes happy. Everyone of course, except the people who expect a little more from their movies. I'd like to think I fall under this category, and Observe and Report was certainly one of those titles to deliver more than 90 minutes of dick-and-fart jokes. For those of you who follow the current comedy scene, you tend to see the same patterns, Apatow works with Rogen and his Freaks and Geeks crew, Jody Hill works with Danny McBride, and Adam McKay works with Will Ferrell and John C Reilly. While McKay's films tend to be god awful, Apatow and Hill are churning out hit after hit. Apatow has already established himself as a big name in Hollywood, while Jody Hill has taken the independent route with his hilarious debut The Foot Fist Way, and the hit HBO series Eastbound and Down. Hopefully Observe and Report gives him the attention and fan base he very much deserves.

Rogen's portrayal of Ronnie Barnhardt is downright creepy. You know the feeling you get when you watch DeNiro as Travis Bickle? This is the same kind of feeling you get from Ronnie. This is not to say that Seth Rogen is the next DeNiro, so don't get the wrong impression. It's the same feeling I got watching Adam Sandler playing Barry Egan in PTA's Punch-Drunk Love. Maybe there's just something about comedians that allows them to play dark, introverted characters, but on both accounts I was blown away. This is Rogen's finest role to date, and his best acted. Director Jody Hill certainly has a way of picking the right people for the right part. Who would have thought that one day Ray Liotta would play second fiddle to a goofy stoner from Canada? I don't know but the dynamic between these two was electric, and certainly hit a climax in a large fight scene that I did not expect to be so violent and brutal. Rounding out the supporting cast is the always funny Anna Farris and brief but hilarious cameos from frequent Hill collaborators Danny McBride and Ben Best. I find it hard to describe the type of comedy in this film. Sometimes it's subtle, other times it's ballsy in-your-face comedy that doesn't let up for several scenes. If I had to really define it, it would be a crime drama with some comedic elements thrown in for good measure.

As of yet, I have not seen Apatow's recently released Funny People starring Rogen and Adam Sandler. Personally I'm anticipating this one, but I'm not sure it will be able to surpass Jody Hill's Observe and Report. It is without a doubt the comedy hit of the year, and possibly one of the funniest films I've ever seen, including everything Rogen has done prior. He is either the smartest man in Hollywood, or has the best agent. Almost all of his films do record numbers at the box office, no small feat considering a majority of them are 'R' rated films. Oddly enough, this one was his smallest grossing film yet, turning in a measly 24 million. This is a very clear sign that the box office haul doesn't dictate the quality of a film. Observe and Report was a flawless comedy that I guarantee will pop up in many of this year's Top 10 Films. It has certainly landed a place in mine.

Nirrad #1: Nirrad - added 08/02/2009, 12:43 PM
Naw naw, the box office result definitely defines this film. I do feel like watching the movie again, and the end was hilarious ,but I just didn't dig the rest of it. 6/10 for me.
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 08/05/2009, 02:15 AM
Between this and Wild Hogs I'm supposed Liotta hasn't eaten a bullet yet.
Chad #3: Chad - added 08/19/2009, 01:10 AM
Sorry Tristan, we're going to have to agree to disagree here. A 10/10 should be reserved for a perfect film, not something that is merely average with a few decent jokes. I did like the ending though. 5, maybe a 6/10 from me.
Lucid Dreams #4: Lucid Dreams - added 10/24/2009, 11:44 PM
The movie was ok, but the last 25 minutes were just so damn hillarious. 6/10
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