Observe and Report suffers from false advertising. The studio has pushed it as a broadly appealing, silly and ridiculous romp involving comedy's hottest ticket of the minute, Seth Rogen. But the broad comedy moments are few and far between, and in less than ten minutes the movie reveals itself as a weird attempt at a dark comedy that only at first appears to be something different. And it doesn't work.
Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, a mall security guard (actually Head of Security) committed to justice who is forced into action when a perverted flasher starts to cause havoc in the mall. With the help of his other security guards and an unwanted, imposing police officer (Ray Liotta), he makes it his mission to apprehend the flasher, all the while trying to win the heart of cosmetic booth employee Brandi (Anna Faris).
Seth Rogen has always worked best in small-ish supporting roles rather than being the lead. It is there where his comedy works best, when he has other leading men (whether it be Steve Carell in The 40 Year Old Virgin or Jonah Hill and Michael Cera in Superbad) to play off of, coming in with comedic jabs at just the right times and in small doses. However, of late he's been given leading roles, and I'm sorry to say he doesn't quite fit. The benefit of the doubt was his in Knocked Up, simply because it was his first lead role, but it has become clear with Zack and Miri Make A Porno, and now this, that he isn't suited to leading a film.
Now that's not to say Rogen isn't a talented comedic actor, because he is. He certainly has a sweet charisma about him that allows him to remain likable while swearing profusely or acting like a complete idiot. But it seems that with Observe and Report, written by The Foot Fist Way writer/director Jody Hill, Rogen is on a mission to go against type. This isn't the lovable oaf we all know and love; this is a foul-mouthed, angry, obsessive and quite troubled character who is not all that likable in the end; maybe he's the kind of guy whom you would want to hang out with for a little while, but who becomes irritating and intrusive if it's any longer than that. Rogen wasn't the right guy for this role; I'm all for going against type, but it fails here.