Observe and Report
1 hour, 26 minutes
Head of Forest Ridge Mall security, Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen, Pineapple Express) has it all: a devoted, trustworthy crew, the attention of the most beautiful woman in the mall, the wherewithal to become a police officer, and the delusions of grandeur to believe any of this is remotely true. With pressure mounting to catch a flasher and a thief, both of whom keep hitting the mall on his watch, Ronnie's life reaches a crossroads where his dreams and his bipolar disorder collide.
Ronnie's first obstacle is Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta, Slow Burn), the lead investigator in both the mall's cases. Harrison calms Ronnie's would-be lover, Brandy (Anna Faris, Just Friends), after her run-in with the flasher, leaving Ronnie to stew in the inadequacy of his station. Ronnie assists Harrison as he questions various mall employees, aggravating the detective during the process. Ronnie ascertains that the only way justice will be served is if he and his deputies focus on canvasing the mall for the pervert before he strikes again.
Surprisingly, Rogen proves he can portray someone other than Seth Rogen. As Ronnie, Rogen is always just left of normal. He's kinda douchey, but honest. The phrase 'that boy ain't right' springs to mind with frequency during O&R. Having played the streetwise cop many times before, Liotta's portrayal of Harrison is dead-on, sparing us the ham and cheese he sometimes serves. He's kinda douchey, too, but in a more dickish, adult way than Ronnie. Then there's Faris's Brandy; Queen Fuckin' Douche of the mall! Faris coats her usual ditsy persona with a layer of Grade 'A' bitch that makes a character that's to die for.
Writer-director Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way) draws a surprising amount of humor out of wholly unlikable characters. His supporting cast delivers ten times over. As Ronnie's main deputy, Dennis, Michael Peña (Shooter) nails a goofy, high-pitched voice that would seem stupid if his delivery weren't so deadpan. Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder) has a hilarious cameo playing the shocking loud-mouth, big-balled dickhead he's does so well. My favorite character has to be Saddam (Aziz Ansari, TV: Parks and Recreation). Jody Hill could make a hit film based on the brief, but tear-inducing exchanges between he and Ronnie.
I'm putting all 2009 films on notice: Rogen and Faris deliver a scene that is the top contender for this year's Most Memorable Moment. Ronnie has a penchant for excessive force, making O&R more violent than I ever could have hoped. Jody Hill adds just the right dash of brutality into the blows dealt by and to Ronnie that it'll make you flinch. I thought the language, violence, nudity (i.e.jiggly man-flesh) and depravity of Observe and Report would be hard to top this year, but then I saw the jaw-dropping insanity that is Crank: High Voltage.
The Money Shot
Observe and Report relies on shock value to deliver the funny, and it works amazingly well. I worried that O&R was destined to repeat the uneven keel of The Foot Fist Way. It has the same type of delusional and disturbing characters, but it all fits very smoothly against the shopping mall backdrop. Maybe it's too soon to label it the Jody-verse, but Hill's cadre of the deluded are carving out their niche in the film world.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Observe and Report