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February 13, 2010

Observe and Report

by Franz Patrick


Observe and Report (2009)
★ / ★★★★

Was this supposed to be a comedy? I was skeptical because the laughs were very sporadic and the drama sometimes overshadowed the jokes. Seth Rogen stars as a mall cop who one day decided that he was going to be a police offer in order to impress a makeup counter girl (Anna Faris). When a flasher started pulling off stunts at the mall, Rogen’s character thought that by catching the guy, it would solidify his place in the police academy. But a detective (Ray Liotta) was also determined to catch the flasher and he would do anything in his power to stop the lead character from achieving his goals. I thought this movie was going to be light because of the cast. It turned out that our lead character had Bipolar Personality Disorder (BPD) and that was often made fun of by showing that he was violent, quick-tempered and had delusions of grandeur. I didn’t appreciate it at all because I’ve learned about people with BPD and it is far from a laughing matter. But the so-called jokes didn’t stop there. I also didn’t like the all-too-common gay jokes; there’s a way to be politically incorrect yet still remain funny as long as the jokes are good-natured and everyone is in on a joke. This one simply started throwing things out there in a random fashion without some minute thought regarding its writing and direction. The best scenes in this picture were anything with Faris in it because I think she’s just naturally funny and charismatic even if the quality of the material doesn’t give her justice. But at the same time I think she’s miscast because the lead character was supposed to realize that the girl he liked didn’t like him back–at least not while sober–and she was just using him for convenience. Faris’ character needed some more aggression and maybe even a bit of sexiness and darkness. Nonetheless, the rest of the picture didn’t quite hold up because all of the characters are more like caricatures. Everyone is playing the extreme stereotype (especially the alcoholic mother played by Celia Weston) and I quickly got tired of it. Written and directed by Jody Hill (“The Foot Fist Way”), “Observe and Report” was a huge disappointment considering that the cast’s talent was completely wasted in one-note jokes and unfunny (in fact, quite cringe-worthy) slapstick.

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