The typically glowing Seth Rogen is just OK in this joke of a movieThe typically glowing Seth Rogen is just OK in this joke of a movie
Pretty much anything these days starring Seth Rogen is going to pack butts in the seats. But unlike his recent jaunts into comedy genius, Observe and Report is probably better viewed as a one-minute trailer than a full-length movie.
Scenes with Brandi (Anna Faris), the ditzy makeup-counter girl, are cuter in snippets, and conversations between mall cop Ronnie (Rogen) and his drunk mama (Celia Weston) are funny until it’s clear that she’s not just drunk—she’s a sad alcoholic. And for the life of me, I have no clue why Ray Liotta signed on to be Ronnie’s nemesis, an actual police officer with actual work to do—the fact that he’s even remotely threatened by the weenie security guard Ronnie is just laughable.
But, enough with the bad stuff. There are some funny parts of the movie too—they’re just easily eclipsed by the dumb, sad and annoying.
The gist of the story goes like this: A flasher starts, well, flashing innocent shoppers at a small-town mall. Nothing seems to happen about the phenomenon until Brandi gets an eyeful in the parking lot one day. Ronnie, who obviously has a thing for Ms. Ditz, is on the case. Much to his chagrin, so is the local PD and Det. Harrison (Liotta).
In the middle of the real action, a whole lot of other stuff happens, making you wonder what the story is really about. For example, there’s a lengthy montage of Ronnie trying to be a “real cop”—going through psychological counseling, taking exams, etc. And a buddy moment with his mall security compatriot (Michael Peña) that is funny in the moment, but not as a part of a bigger picture.
And that’s really the crux of what’s missing here. There are snippets that, when put together, make a pretty lousy, downright dirty film. From drugs and racism to an extended scene of the flasher’s privates, there’s little here to laugh at. Don’t take me as a prude, either—I loved Harold and Kumar and enjoyed Zack and Miri Make a Porno.
Observe and Report spends way too much time panning the camera from one scene in the food court to another in the parking lot to a third focusing on Brandi that it forgets its own storyline. There are some laughs, sure. And Rogen, considering what he’s been given to work with, is decent (and cleans up great simply by getting a haircut). But the movie—from The Foot Fist Way’s Jody Hill—is little more than background music. I haven’t even seen it, but I have a feeling I would have been better off spending an hour and a half with Paul Blart.