Warner Bros. // 2009 // 86 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // October 7th, 2009
Right now, the world needs a hero!
That hero, of course, is Seth Rogen, who turns in yet another hilarious performance in Jody Hill's new comedy, Observe and Report. It's a violent, yet thoroughly enjoyable and often quite surprising little film I can only recommend in case you missed it in theaters. Don't be fooled by the trailers, though, because Observe and Report is definitely not what the previews make it out to be. It's a lot bolder and more intriguing than you'd think, and that's just one of the things I love about this flick.
Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, head of security at Forest Ridge Mall, where things run pretty smoothly until a nasty flasher shows up in the parking lot and starts scaring customers. For Ronnie, however, it looks like the arrival of this pervert is the best thing that ever happened to him. You see, Ronnie's biggest dream is to become a real hero, and, as unusual as it may sound, this incident shapes up to be his ultimate chance to show everybody what he's really about.
Not only does the hunt for the flasher give Ronnie the necessary confidence to go out there and believe he can achieve big things, but it also gives him the chance to impress Brandy (Anna Faris, The House Bunny), a hot, eccentric makeup counter clerk he's been fancying for quite a while now. Unfortunately, only so many good things can happen at once, and, before he knows it, Ronnie finds himself facing unexpected trouble that may put his plans in jeopardy.
The key word in my previous sentence is unexpected, because that's what Observe and Report is all about. Unlike most Hollywood comedies in this genre, Hill's film is loaded with surprising moments. It's refreshing, because this is a film that could have easily derailed.
This flick is certainly not another Paul Blart: Mall Cop. First of all, it's definitely not a movie for young viewers, and secondly, it's by far not as conventional and boring than the Kevin James comedy. Sure, the two films share a number of similarities when it comes to story and characters, but Hill's film is undoubtedly the more interesting and more shocking one. While Observe and Report is not a comedy that appeals to the masses, its dark atmosphere and offbeat humor are just two things I highly appreciate.
Observe and Report boasts a particularly vulgar, yet refreshing humor, and it's pretty safe to say that some viewers will hate it while others will love it. You'll also discover a bunch of energetic action sequences in the film. From F-bombs to some bloody scenes and other crude jokes, this one's for those who don't mind a daring movie that doesn't mind shocking viewers every now and then. All in all though, everything works together pretty well.
Most importantly, though, it's a film with a heart. I know that sounds incredibly strange, but Rogen's Ronnie is a guy I found very easy to care about. When we first meet Ronnie, he's just this lonely loser who lives with his mother, has no luck with the girl he's in love with, and is waiting for an opportunity to prove himself to the world. As the film progresses, however, we see Ronnie transform into someone else. While most of it is plain hilarious to watch, it's also somewhat intriguing. I mean, here's a troubled guy who actually gets a shot at sorting things out.
Rogen, of course, is the perfect choice for a character who is cocky in the beginning, but starts to show he's got a fragile side to him. Rogen completely dominates this film, and he's backed up by a superb supporting cast. Faris overdoes it a bit every now and then, but Hill's script supplies her with some very funny lines. Ronnie's also got his own team of mall cops; the most memorable in the pack is Michael Pena's Dennis. Then there's Ray Liotta, who plays a real cop stepping on Ronnie's toes when it comes to the hunt for the flasher.
Let's shift to technical aspects of his Blu-ray edition of Observe and Report. The disc boasts a strong 2.40:1 widescreen presentation, and the image is clean and clear throughout. The film features an overall darker look than most comedies in this genre, and although some of the scenes here look a bit grainy, I was pleasantly surprised by the high-definition quality of the disc. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio transfer works great as well, even though I came across some minor imbalances between dialogue and music and sound effects. It's not a big issue, though.
If you're looking for extras, the Blu-ray version is definitely superior to the standard DVD. The bonus material includes "Basically Training," a 6-minute behind-the-scenes look with cast and crew interviews about the stunts in the film and how Rogen kept himself in shape and did all of the action scenes himself. The disc also includes "Forest Ridge Mall: Security Recruitment Video," a 3-minute segment that pokes fun at mall security guards and contains footage from the feature.
The special features also include a hilarious gag reel (provided Rogen's laugh doesn't irritate you that much), additional scenes, and outtakes. I also recommend you check out the picture-in-picture commentary track with Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, and Jody Hill, who discuss all kinds of things related to the making of the flick and the roles they played. It's a funny and refreshing commentary, and although all three of them goof around most of the time, they still reveal some interesting stuff about the making of Observe and Report. Finally, this edition also carries a digital copy of the film.
Observe and Report may not be the best comedy I've seen this year, but I still highly enjoyed it. It's a surprising, hilarious, and fast-paced film boasting many laughs and a great cast. I dare you to check it out. It really deserves to be seen.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* Official Site