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Observe and Report (2009)

January 6, 2010

8/10 Stun Guns and Pepper Sprays

Eat it, Paul Blart. Eat it.

Observe and Report is about mall security guard named Ronnie whose otherwise unspectacular life takes on a whole new meaning when he is tasked to take down a renegade flasher that’s been terrorizing the female clientele at his place of business before the cops get to the guy first and steal all of Ronnie’s glory.

After hearing what seemed like nothing but utter hatred for this movie from everyone I know and everyone I don’t know, I didn’t have very high expectations going in and more or less gave it a chance because I’ve been looking for a movie to whale on lately. But every once and a while the Earth and Uranus align in such a rare fashion that it triggers off some freak flaw in my DNA and I end up thoroughly enjoying something that I really didn’t think I would. It’s about as infrequent as a lunar and solar eclipse occurring at the same, but when it happens, boy howdy, it is beautiful.

So here I stand before you, folks, giving this crazy bastard of a movie an unsuspecting 8 out of 10. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it was right up my alley.

Director Jody Hill’s only got two other credits to his name – a funny, yet outrageously depressing indie comedy called The Foot Fist Way and one of the funniest effing shows I’ve seen in a long, long time called Eastbound and Down. If you’re not familiar with the guy, some might say you’re better off, but for all you thick-skinned daredevils out there, get ready for something new. Hill is one dark mofo with a twisted sense of humor that’s more likely to offend than make you part of the choir. At the same time, that’s why I’m really starting to dig what he’s putting out there.

This movie isn’t safe, it’s not very accessible and it doesn’t let up. But it’s also a freakin’ riot.

The whole vibe Hill is going for here is probably best captured in the movie’s main character, Ronnie Barnhardt. By all accounts, Ronnie is pretty pathetic. He’s the head of mall security and – in his mind – he is therefore the shit. It’s almost endearing watching him talk so much game about something so unimpressive, but you end up laughing at him more then with him.

But then in one magical moment, all that talk is finally put to the test and we collectively realize, “Holy shit. Ronnie Barnhardt is a total fucking badass.” From that point on, everything changes. He’s no longer the laughing stock, he’s the real deal. Ronnie is the anti-hero this movie needs, he is this 21st Century Travis Bickle with a maglite in hand instead of a gun up his sleeve, and once he evolves into the walking, talking middle finger to everyone and everything that totally deserves it, Ronnie becomes the man.

Sometimes it’s just great to watch people fuck shit up.

Seth Rogen is great in the role, but the same goes for everyone else, too. Ray Liotta as his arch-enemy in the police force, Aziz Ansari as his arch-enemy in the mall, Anna Faris (finally breaking away from Scary Movie) as his trailer trash love interest, Michael Pena as his right-hand man and Danny McBride as a crack dealer. Every last one of ’em – totally awesome, totally hilarious.

But alas, this is another one of those movies that I can’t outright recommend because it doesn’t take much tact to see that Observe and Report isn’t everyone’s idea of a knee-slapper. When it comes to bad taste, it crosses the line once or twice, but that might definitely be more than enough to make someone turn this baby off mid-movie without thinking twice. This is a movie that needs to be taken with a grain of salt and a shot of tequila, but if you like Hill’s other stuff and you’re looking for some sharp and edgy shit that really doesn’t fall into the category of “mainstream comedy”, the payoff is more than worth it.

Also (unfortunately) features some pretty gnarly dude-ity. Just a heads up.

And sorry for all the swearing.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2010 7:10 am

    dude-ity… never heard that one before. good word

  2. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    January 6, 2010 10:51 am

    Aziz Ansari is EVERYWHERE these days, isn’t he? But damn if I just can’t get sick of the guy. His riff on Chick-fil-A is the best scene in “Observe and Report” … if you don’t count the one with the pervert (Randy Gambill, who didn’t get enough money for this sequence no matter how much they paid him) free-balling it through the mall.

    The first time I saw this, though, I didn’t like it much, so I watched it again and the movie grew on me. I’m still not wild about the way Jody Hill portrays women — they’re either helpless (his mom, Nell) or whorish (Brandi), but I sort of get now that “Observe and Report” is a movie about dudes; it’s not really meant for women. And Seth Rogen did a good job with what must have been an extremely tough role.

  3. Ryan permalink
    January 6, 2010 1:36 pm

    This movie was nothing but a disappointment. Really really bad, just like Pineapple Express, a total let down.

    • January 6, 2010 1:46 pm

      Haha, sorry man. At least there’s always Kenny Powers and Ashley Shafer.

  4. Branden permalink
    January 6, 2010 3:00 pm

    Aiden, I thought your film, “Zeroes” was funnier than this movie. As you said, you liking this film was a fluke. More power to you!

    • January 6, 2010 3:10 pm

      Hahaha, couldn’t have asked for a better comment. Thanks, man.

      • Branden permalink
        January 8, 2010 1:28 pm

        You are very welcome.

  5. January 6, 2010 4:14 pm

    Observe & Report is definitely an acquired taste, but I thought it was hilarious.

  6. January 6, 2010 5:39 pm

    Another movie that I have to add to my giant stack of movies I’m supposed to watch. Unfortunately that list seems to grow faster than I can watch movies…

  7. May 4, 2010 6:01 pm

    Just watched it, and I agree with you on so much. Funny stuff here bro, check out mine once you get a chance:


  1. Observe and Report (2009) « Dan The Man's Movie Reviews

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