Monday, November 16, 2009

Home Video: Observe and Report

Observe and Report
Directed by Jody Hill
Released April 10, 2009

Seth Rogen is the perfect person to play an over-the-top cop who’s on a bit of a false power trip. His best role, arguably, was as a mustached police officer in “Superbad,” which allowed him to be as silly as he could be and to take pleasure in abusing the power of the law and making fun of suspects and victims. Casting Rogen as a mall cop with an unfulfilled sense of purpose seems like a foolproof plan, especially since the man is great at wisecracks and just talking. The trouble is, the story of mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt is just plain terrible.

Rogen has shown that he’s able to do surprisingly mature comedy with past performances on TV’s “Undeclared” and the film “Knocked Up,” and that he can remain charming and hilarious. Ronnie Barnhardt doesn’t possess any desirable traits: he’s loud, rude, bad at his job, and hopelessly slow at picking up social cues. Watching Ronnie do anything is like watching a train wreck over and over again, and that’s doubly true for the other characters in the movie. Particularly regrettable are two talented actors who turn in despicably awful performances here. Michael Peña, so fantastic on “The Shield” and in “Crash,” is saddled with an effeminate accent and possibly the most regrettable role in movie history. Anna Faris, who excels at overplaying comedy, gives too much here as Ronnie’s not-quite love interest and it’s very unfortunate. Rogen, Peña, and Faris have done so much better in the past, and this is truly a sad turn of events.

This movie, as a whole, is just a blubbering mess. It’s childish, immature, and increasingly stupid. There’s not a laugh in the entire movie, and this is supposed to be a comedy, if nothing else. For a while, it seems like it’s going to eventually get better, but oh no, it’s really not. Rogen should be able to do well in this role, but this film is dreadfully written and made. There’s no bright spot to be found in “Observe and Report,” just steer clear and don’t think about observing this one.


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