Observe and Report
What is at times devlishly funny, morbidly perverse and shocking once or twice descends into the “Taxi Driver” version of mall cop movies, all but suffocating its audience before coming back to the surface for air.
Seth Rogen plays unhinged mall security guard Ronnie Barnhardt, who takes his job a little too seriously. He fancies himself as something more than a rent-a-cop, is bi-polar, and has designs on becoming a police officer.
So when a flasher terrorizes the mall he works at, Ronnie takes the case, with the same gusto as any TV cop would.
Ronnie also has a mad crush on cosmetics counter worker Brandi (Anna Faris), a bubbleheaded bleach blonde who, it turns out is into partying with Xanax and booze.
But crushing on Ronnie is Nell (Collette Wolf), a sweet girl working behind the fast-food counter. She dutifully gets Ronnie’s coffee every morning, listens to his problems, and gets nowhere with the clueless lunk.
When Ronnie’s case draws the attention of the real cops, they send a detective (Ray Liotta) to check it out. Ronnie is none too happy at having his turf invaded, and stonewalls him at every turn.
Rogen plays Ronnie with a juvenile sense of dunderheaded earnestness that is sometimes endearing, other times frightening. He’s just stupid enough to be extremely dangerous, and as the film progresses, Ronnie degenerates into a Travis Bickle-type of darkness that culminates an an oddly unfunny brawl between Ronnie and the cops.
Sandwiched in between there is the somewhat infamous “date rape” bit that drew a bit of attention upon its theatrical release. I’d say the outrage is a bit trumped up: it’s certainly an uncomfortable scene that turns in on itself with a certain remark a character makes later on that suggests it’s certainly not rape.
The supporting cast holds well, especially an effeminate Michael Pena as Ronnie’s right-hand man, and Celia Weston as Ronnie’s mostly drunk mother. Aziz Ansari (“Funny People”) is hilarious in a small role as a kiosk worker who is subject to Ronnie’s insults.
Still, the film unravels when Ronnie goes dark, though it redeems itself in the finale, a manic, perverse, sausage-flopping slo mo sequence as Ronnie finally chases down the perp, making it hard to fully recommend for filmgoers other than those who enjoy dark comedy.
The DVD extras are non-existent aside from a few trailers, which is a shame, because this film begs for some clarification on what the heck those charged with making this film were trying to do.
Movie: 3 Yaps out of 5
Extras: 0 Yaps