Observe and Report

Seth Rogen plays the most racist, unstable mall cop in a 2009 movie so far.

Observe and Report is a balancing act of tone. It’s only a comedy out of mercy that it’s easier to deal with through humour. The second movie written and directed by Jody Hill is, like the previous one, The Foot Fist Way, and his TV series Eastbound and Down, about the type of sociopath most people would walk to the other side of the food court to avoid. But even as Hill sticks awfully close to his previous material, guts are what give this grungy character-study its sick charm. Seth Rogen is Ronnie Barnhardt, the most racist, unstable mall cop in a 2009 movie so far. His alcoholic mother is proud of him when he states on the TV news that he wants to murder the flasher who’s been terrorizing female shoppers. When he applies to the police academy, and convinces the mall’s cosmetics girl (Anna Faris) to go on a date with him, Ronnie’s ego spirals out of control. For a while, it seems Rogen is a compromise in a role that seems meant for Danny McBride’s perfect line-readings. But Rogen’s soft demeanour soon merges into Ronnie’s confusion. It’s expected that some of the rich and powerful get god complexes. Ronnie develops it as a security guard---his desire for respect self-justified as necessary vigilance. Observe and Report even has a voice-over that parallels Taxi Driver. Hill slightly changes the angle on Scorsese’s social tragedy until it’s a feel-bad comedy.

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