• Observe And Report



    Released by: Warner Brothers
    Released on: 9/22/2009
    Director: Jody Hill
    Cast: Seth Rogan, Anna Faris, Michael Pena, Ray Liotta, Celia Weston, Collette Wolfe
    Year: 2009
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    The Movie:

    Writer-director Jody Hill has, with Observe And Report, crafted a surprisingly dark comedy that has more in common with The Cable Guy than with the Judd Apatow pictures that Seth Rogen is so often and rightly associated with. Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, the slightly awkward head of mall security at the Forest Ridge Mall. When he’s not taking his job ridiculously seriously, he’s crushing pretty hard on the pretty cosmetics counter attendant, Brandi (Anna Faris). Brandi’s not all that interested in Ronnie, however – he’s kind of a schlub who still lives at home with his perpetually drunk mother (Celia Weston).

    When the mall becomes the target of a flasher, Ronnie makes it his personal quest to protect the public from this nefarious pervert. The local cops are called in, lead by Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta), who Ronnie immediately sees as a threat to his career, or more accurately, his ego. As Ronnie attempts to stop the flasher, join the police force and woo Brandi, he remains blissfully ignorant to the fact that the girl at the coffee counter in the food court, Nell (Collette Wolfe), who has promised God that she won’t sleep with a man until marriage, is starting to fall for him. Ronnie’s quest, or more accurately his rather insane disposition, soon finds him at odds with Harrison and with his fellow security guards – Dennis (Michael Pena) and the Yuen Brothers (John and Matt Yuan).

    Most of us are used to seeing Rogen play the loveable dopey type, the pothead with a heart of gold or the slacker who will always be there for his friends – Ronnie Barnhardt is not that type of character at all. He’s a selfish asshole, really. He doesn’t seem to care what anyone else wants, he keeps only his own goals and wants in mind, and he’s more than a bit power mad. His feelings for Brandi have nothing to do with anything remotely resembling emotion, he only wants to get in her pants and he’s not interested in catching the flasher because it’s the right thing to do but because it’ll give him his fifteen minutes of fame and just maybe land him a spot on a police force that wants nothing to do with him.

    Rogen handles this part surprisingly well, cast against type here and showing no qualms whatsoever about displaying his character’s dark side in all its unashamed glory. His interaction with Faris is completely realistic, in that he’s one of those guys who just doesn’t get it, and when she finally goes out on a date with him because he won’t stop bothering her, you just know it’s not going to go well. They have no chemistry and no reason to be together in the first place. Countering that is his relationship with the considerably more fragile Nell. Working at the coffee shop with a broken leg and taking constant abuse from her boss (played by Patton Oswalt), she’s obviously the type of character who could see something in a guy like Ronnie, but he remains blissfully unaware of her in any capacity outside of the ‘free coffee’ he gets.

    Hill’s script is interesting and clever and contains more than a few genuine surprises. You won’t see the finale coming, but once it hits you realize the movie shouldn’t end any other way. The film is quite competently directed and what it may lack in stylish visuals it more than makes up for with a very brisk pace and some great comedy.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Warner Brothers offers the option to watch the film in its original 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio or in a 1.33.1 fullframe presentation. Video quality is good, though detail is sometimes just a little bit soft. Colors are nicely defined, black levels stay strong, and while there is some mild line shimmering noticeable here and there, you won’t likely notice any edge enhancement or any compression artifacts. Skin tones are good, and the picture is squeaky clean, never showing any heavy grain or print damage. A nice presentation overall.

    Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks are provided in English, French and Spanish with optional English closed captioning. This isn’t all that bombastic a mix in terms of surround usage but you’ll notice the rears coming to life more than a few times, particularly any time any action breaks out. The score sounds good, there’s some great music used throughout the movie, and dialogue is clean and clear. Levels are well balanced, there are no problems with any hiss or distortion, and this basically sounds just as good as you’d expect such a modern picture to sound on DVD.

    Extras? We get a menu… and chapter selection. That’s it.

    The Final Word:

    The completely barebones factor is a negative but Observe And Report is a surprisingly dark and effective comedy that will more than likely really take you by surprise. It looks good, and it sounds good, and it’s very much worth seeing.