Observe and Report Review: A Cinematic Happy Slap

April 23, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

OBSERVE AND REPORT: On general release from Friday 24th April 2009

Everyone knows Seth Rogen, he’s everywhere.

He’s the golden boy of many Judd Apatow produced projects such as Superbad, Knocked Up and Pineapple Express , and usually plays likable but bumbling characters.

Observe and Report is another by-the numbers comedy but with all the humour amputated and replaced by a mean-streak that’s about as desirable as surgery without anaesthetic.

Ronnie Barnhart (Rogen) is the Head of Mall Security. Suffering from delusions of grandeur, Ronnie acts like he’s the sheriff of an Old Western town, doling out justice where he sees fit. When a flasher invades his turf and threatens his unrequited love Brandi (Anna Faris), he ends up competing with genuine cop, Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) for the case.

The film veers from light-hearted one moment to shockingly indecent the next. Scenes involving date rape, the glorification of hard drug use, the revelation of Ronnie’s bi-polar disorder, Ronnie’s alcoholic mother (Celia Westron), bullying, theft and racial abuse are dropped in out of nowhere and treated with no sensitivity. It’s not funny, not in the slightest. The most likely reaction you’ll have is to sit there in stunned silence with a look of bewildered shock on your face, “did that just…did that just happen?”

If you’re going to have your main character do unspeakable things in a comedy movie, they’ve got to be likeable and Ronnie’s about as undesirable as you can get; he’s irresponsible, violent, crude and reactionary and not endearing in any way. There’s no build up to this, it’s the cinema equivalent of being happy-slapped.

Not only that, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else liking him either so his relationship with coffee girl (Collette Wolfe) that he berates every day is completely unbelievable.

Having controversial material in a film doesn’t automatically make it funny and here it’s been used as a shortcut to cover up the film’s deficiencies in plot, character and script.

It’s possibly the most charmless and witless film there’s been in a long time, populated by despicable and unfunny characters with a lazy and uninspiring script.

Observe and Report? I’d rather stick pins in my eyes.

Jez Sands

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