Observe and Report
Security guards are a funny breed. During a summer during college, I worked as a security guard to earn some extra cash. It was a unique experience and I came across some crazy characters in only two months. A movie based on any of the security guards working that summer would have been a more enjoyable viewing experience than watching OBSERVE AND REPORT.
Seth Rogen stars as Ronnie Barnhardt, the head of mall security in middle America. He’s a bit of a loser, oblivious to the fact his job is meaningless, the girl he loves will sleep with anything and his “nemesis” barely acknowledges his existence. When a flasher starts terrorizing the mall patrons, Ronnie has a chance to make something of himself by stopping him. The local police detective (Ray Liotta) is called in to investigate and that only adds to Ronnie’s troubles. Couple the flasher with a thief and this mall becomes a dangerous place to work. But none of these events combine for a decent plot. We basically watch a despicable person go through a series of events without any explanation or back-story to make us care.
When you have a character-based comedy like this, you have to get the audience on board with your character. Seth Rogen should know this more than anyone after starring in several Judd Apatow films. He should have mentioned this to director Jody Hill because there wasn’t one redeeming quality in Ronnie Barnhardt. They had two ways to take his character in order to make him work. The first way would be to have Ronnie so stupid, he just doesn’t “get it”, and the audience would feel sorry for him. The second would be to have him start out as a jerk and then grow as the movie progressed. This would allow the audience to learn to love him. But Hill did neither of these steps and instead decided to take the third, and ill advised, direction of having Ronnie be a jerk in the beginning and end as a jerk.
But all can be forgiven if the movie is funny. Unfortunately, OBSERVE AND REPORT is not a funny movie. In fact, I can only think of one scene that caused me to laugh out loud (Ronnie hitting a kid with a skateboard) and that was a fleeting moment. All of the actors that had funny characters (Anna Faris, Michael Pena, Aziz Ansari), were so underused that they shouldn’t have even been in the film. I’m a huge Seth Rogen fan, but he didn’t get any of the good lines and his character was the least funny thing about an overall unfunny film.
I’m sincerely disappointed in this film. After suffering through PAUL BLART: MALL COP, I wanted to like this movie. Unfortunately, OBSERVE AND REPORT just wasn’t up to the task. There were no character arcs to speak of and the characters that we did follow were inconsistent and underdeveloped. The plot was pedestrian and without some major laughs, this movie was left without any redeeming qualities. There’s a reason this film came and went with barely a notice at the theaters and it has nothing to do with Mr. Blart.