Written by Hombre Divertido
In Observe and Report, writer/director Jody Hill casts bankable comedic actor Seth Rogen as Ronnie Barnhardt, the bipolar head of Security at the Forest Ridge Mall. Ronnie is a self-important blowhard who is obsessed with his job, and makeup counter girl Brandi (Anna Faris). When Brandi and other mall patrons are exposed to a flasher, Ronnie bounds into action to catch the criminal, as does local Police Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta). Rogen certainly plays his part well, yet it is disappointing that he was not given the opportunity to truly explore what was obviously a complex character.
The first half of this far too short 86-minute film plays out like a sophomoric, smile-inducing comedy, while the second half becomes more of a ridiculously violent music video. Generally this is an endeavor that simply does not know what it wants to be, or fails to play out its overly ambitious goal with any clarity, and results in a collection of scenes that don’t fit together. The film looks like a grainy seventies B-movie in film quality, performance, and execution.
Hill obviously had some good ideas here, but with little focus applied to any of them, the result is disappointing. A light comedy based on the exploits of the lead character would have been enjoyable, as would further development of any of the subplots such as the relationship between Ronnie and Brandi, the solving of the case of the mall flasher, or an in-depth look into the lead character himself. Instead, the story runs in many directions and gets nowhere.
The supporting cast is not bad, but the script lends them little opportunity to display any range with the possible exception of Michael Pena as Ronnie's right-hand man Dennis. Pena manages to garner some solid moments with a subtle performance Talented Ray Liotta appears to be channeling a younger Stacy Keach as officer Harrison in an underdeveloped role that seems to lack motivation for the little he is given to do. Faris gives an enjoyable albeit one-dimensional performance as the mall tramp, and the rest of the cast certainly shows potential, but we see far too little of them.
Recommendation: The marketing of Observe and Report would clearly lead someone to believe it is the type of comedy we have come to expect Rogen to participate in, and the opening scenes lend themselves to a fast-paced independent comedy full of off-beat supporting characters. Instead, the film takes a violent turn and provides nothing more than disappointing storytelling full of one-dimensional characters that the audience truly wished had been explored.
Observe and Report lacks too much depth for you to dive into it.