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Observe and Report: The (Very) Dark Side of Being a Mall Cop

With its ambling plot, oddball characters and sudden bursts of violence, Observe and Report is a weird little movie. I chuckled a lot and was shocked a few times, but I wouldn't necessarily say that it's an uproariously funny comedy. I'm not sure what it is, actually.

In the story, mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) considers himself tough and important but when incidents occur at his mall — like a flasher terrorizing women in the parking lot, or someone robbing a store — the police are called in and Ronnie's job suddenly seems inconsequential by comparison. He applies to become a police officer and in the meantime pursues Brandi (Anna Faris), the shallow, blond party girl who works at a cosmetics counter and who clearly has no interest in Ronnie. The thing about Ronnie, though, is that he doesn't quite see the reality of things, so when he finally realizes that he might not be police officer material and Brandi doesn't consider him her boyfriend, he kinda loses it. Can he ever earn the respect of everyone around him? I won't say what happens but I will share more thoughts if you


It's not a particularly well-told story, as the narrative wanders from point to point and we watch our lead character merely go from delusional fantasy to blind rage and back again. Sure, his outrageous behavior is funny — particularly in the setting of a sleepy suburban mall — but it's still hard to care about him all that much. It feels a bit like we're rooting for him out of some kind of obligation.

Rogen does a fine job in this kind of role — the schlubbier-than-average guy with a humorously unrealistic view of himself and his place in the world. Rogen fans will most likely enjoy this performance and this movie that revolves entirely around him, but in his ever-lengthening résumé, I have a feeling Observe and Report will not stand out as one of his best. His costars — especially Anna Faris and Celia Weston — give their all to this film and they succeed in bringing blasts of (often inappropriate) fun.

As I left the screening I overheard a conversation about how "uncreative" the movie is, and while I wouldn't go that far, I would say that some parts seem lazy. Certain gags are dragged out for a long time, I think to make them funnier, but the result is something that just feels draggy. And other scenes are quite funny but so dark or bleak that I ended up just feeling sad. It's extremely vulgar and violent, and definitely not for everyone's taste, but if you do like this sort of thing then it's worth seeing this someday just to see all these funny people interact.

Warner Bros.

Join The Conversation
pinklady8287 pinklady8287 8 years
I saw it last night. I am not happy at all with the date rape scene. It was very offensive. Why would you ever try to make something like that humorous?!
ddene5713 ddene5713 8 years
oh and a diff topic... in the previews... i am so stoked about The Hangover and Year One. both look HILARIOUS.
ddene5713 ddene5713 8 years
so i went with 12 people to see this movie and every one of us left the theater going "huh?" i mean i understand the movie is a dark comedy about a dude with bipolar disorder... but seriously i left feeling like i had just watched three different movies jumbled up into one. i personally wouldn't see it again and in comparison... the last two seth rogen movies... pineapple express was waaaay better and i didn't even enjoy that one all too much.
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 8 years
it tries so hard to be Taxi Driver, but it comes off as a sophomoric Falling Down, staring Eric Cartman. I love black comedy, but this was just unfunny.
bento-barista bento-barista 8 years
I think I'm kinda sick of Seth Rogen. He needs to either stop doing movies for a while or play some other kind of role, which might be difficult because he and the rest of his Apatow comrades seem to have typecast themselves...well, maybe not Paul Rudd, but he's on his way there too -- a far far cry from when he played Josh Lucas.
Frenched Frenched 8 years
I sort of had high hopes for this movie but it sounds very distasteful. Especially the misogyny part. How can this still be considered FUNNY in this day and age?
I saw it today and I found alot of it funny. I overall liked all the shocking moments. I thought the ending was pretty epic and I will never think of Fight Club when I hear that song again. LOL. As far as that "date rape" scene goes all I could think of was my mandatory college sexual orientation class. They state that its illegal to have sex with people if they are drunk...soooooo that did bother me a little but then Anna's character says what she says and so it didn't nag me as much. I did still like the movie was funny. I also thought Nell was a good polar opposite of Brandi and it didn't really scream a sexist film to me.
lexichloe lexichloe 8 years
Oh, disappointing review. I had high hopes for the Rogen/Faris pairing. I might check it out at a matinee.
Grantz Grantz 8 years
Well, I saw it a little differently. It was a disgusting scene, Anna's character was vomiting from the side of her mouth. But Seth's character stopped when he thought she had dozed off. And then Anna got mad because Seth stopped, and said "What are you doing stopping you moth*****!. So, Seth and Anna both finished what they were doing. A movie about a manic depressive, is hard to work as a comedy. They always come off seeming way offbeat, and dark. The Cable Guy, kind of induced the same result. Critically, I give it the same rating as Buzz did.
Beauty Beauty 8 years
I'm so tired of these woman-hating "comedies" that make a big joke out of misogyny. I mean, we have a main character sexually assaulting a woman — and yes, that's what he's doing, because she's PASSED OUT — and it's played for dark humor. Date rape is not funny, ever. Girlcott!
Entertainment Entertainment 8 years
ladybirda — When I watched the movie, that scene seemed pretty par for the course with the rest of the movie, and it seemed like something this character would do. There's a lot of over-the-top violence in this movie, and the main character is pretty messed up. Now that I've heard the debates about the scene, I can certainly understand why people take issue with it, especially when thinking of the bigger picture and the way women are portrayed in these kinds of comedies across the board. When I was watching it, however, that wasn't my initial thought. It's one of many messed up things this character does.
emalove emalove 8 years
Well, I'm disappointed to hear that it wasn't that great, but I think my husband and I are still going to go see it tomorrow night. We love Seth and Anna.
ladybirda ladybirda 8 years
Any comment on the date rape scene, buzz? I couldn't believe it when I first heard about it.
bransugar79 bransugar79 8 years
Thanks Buzz I was actually thinking of seeing this movie over the weekend but it seems like wiating for DVD or on Demand might be the better choice
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