Observe and Report

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If genuine originality is a rare commodity in movies these days, in Hollywood comedy it’s damn near extinct: however likeable the Judd Apatow-induced slew of bro-coms we’re currently experiencing, they’re still playing on age-old themes of romantic disenchantment, sexual frustration and male insecurity. ‘Observe and Report’ covers those themes too – but only in addition to its main interests in mental derangement, drug addiction and good old homegrown American fascism.

The film has been likened to ‘Taxi Driver’. It’s a reasonable comparison, though ‘King of Comedy’ might be more appropriate. Seth Rogen has never been better, or more unsettling, as mall security head Ronnie Barnhardt, whose increasing moral torpor and self loathing are constantly threatening to blossom into outright psychosis.

It could be argued that ‘Observe and Report’ sets a worrying precedent for mainstream comedy. With scenes of date rape, drug taking and violence against children and police officers, this is grim and often shocking: writer-director Jody Hill sketches characters with insight but without an ounce of sympathy. Taken as comedy the film is effective but uneven, relying on discomfort rather than smart jokes.

But take it seriously, and it pays off. For Hill, the real threat to America isn’t terrorists or politicians, it’s those ordinary jumped-up fascist thugs – cops, managers, security guards – who have just enough power to want more. Bracing, bleak and berserk, this is a film which laughs in the face of American intolerance, and comes up punch-drunk and grinning.

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday April 24 2009
Duration: 86 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jody Hill
Screenwriter: Jody Hill
Cast: Seth Rogen
Ray Liotta
Anna Faris
Michael Peña
Celia Weston
Collette Wolfe
John Yuan
Matt Yuan
Dan Bakkedahl

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
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critique

I`m a bit out of synch with most of the reviewers of this film in that I`m not a Seth Rogen fan and I didn`t enjoy Knocked Up or Pineapple Express. I agree with Paul that the sex scene between Barnhardt and the cosmetics girl was clearly NOT "date rape" and I disagree with Johnny Rico in that I loved the slo-mo running flasher scene. Great stuff.

Paul H

Normally love Seth Rogen's films but this one was utter crap. Yes there are some bizarre and even funny scenes but the majority of the movie was just sheer crap and senseless dribble. But at least it pushed some boundaries.

Paul

First off, will you stop saying it's date rape? The whole point of that scene is to shock the viewer by bringing them into it mid-act thinking he's taking advantage of the situation, but in spite of the massive amount of booze/meds, she keeps going because she's fucked up. If you can step outside your little bubble of delicate sensibilities and recognize that there is a lot of subtle but extremely well delivered humor you'll definitely enjoy this movie. This is the first film where I've laughed my ass off to the point of tears during the film, and thought "wow, this was genius" at the end. Awkward social interaction reflects real life to the extreme, in a Michael Scott-like performance in some parts of the film. I'm just simply amazed how many worthless critics seem to be skimming through films, taking a glance on the surface, without even being able to correctly explain the events in their proper context. It's over the top in areas where you least expect it, and nearly every character shows their dynamics at the best possible times from ray liota going from calm to completely snapping, to Michael Pena's character going on a mad crime and drug binge. I really didn't even want to turn this comment into a full review, but I'll just say that this was an excellent movie and is far deeper and more interesting than anything else that's come out in a long while, and it actually delivers on comedy unlike the absolutely worthless indie films starring comedic actors like Juno. This is the Anti-Juno, and it's fucking brilliant.

Paul

First off, will you stop saying it's date rape? The whole point of that scene is to shock the viewer by bringing them into it mid-act thinking he's taking advantage of the situation, but in spite of the massive amount of booze/meds, she keeps going because she's fucked up. If you can step outside your little bubble of delicate sensibilities and recognize that there is a lot of subtle but extremely well delivered humor you'll definitely enjoy this movie. This is the first film where I've laughed my ass off to the point of tears during the film, and thought "wow, this was genius" at the end. Awkward social interaction reflects real life to the extreme, in a Michael Scott-like performance in some parts of the film. I'm just simply amazed how many worthless critics seem to be skimming through films, taking a glance on the surface, without even being able to correctly explain the events in their proper context. It's over the top in areas where you least expect it, and nearly every character shows their dynamics at the best possible times from ray liota going from calm to completely snapping, to Michael Pena's character going on a mad crime and drug binge. I really didn't even want to turn this comment into a full review, but I'll just say that this was an excellent movie and is far deeper and more interesting than anything else that's come out in a long while, and it actually delivers on comedy unlike the absolutely worthless indie films starring comedic actors like Juno. This is the Anti-Juno, and it's fucking brilliant.

Tony

Oh dear.... what a poor movie , sesh rogan is usually fantastic and funny especially in knocked up however what is all this about?? it has no humour like others and frankly is a terrible terrible film please listen to the reviews and dont waste your money , as for the timeout reviewer you slate good films and applaud pure shit ones. sorry but this was shocking.

Roy

There's a problem with being a film reviewer, you lose your ability to just watch and enjoy a movie, as a result you see a lot of formulaic predicatable films and however good the individual film is because it holds no suprises for you, it tends to pick up an mediocre or evan a bad rating. The converse is true in that any film that suprises you picks up a better rating than t deserves and this is a case in point this film fails in almost everythign it sets out to do unless it's objectives where alienate the audience and lose money; however; it does have some itersting touches and a degree of originality about it, not enough to save it from it's woeful dialogue and lackluster pacing but coupled with some hardworking performances with bad material I can understand why a critic (who lets face it gets paid to see the film where the rest of us cough up hard earned cash) might find a few twists and suprises in there. It's not the worst film ever made but there's betterthings out there to spend your money on unless oyu are truely jaded and cyncal with the world of cinma when this may provide some small entertainment value

Johnny Rico

Im usually a fan of gross out comedy but the date rape scene, slow motion male nudity and the drug taking was too much for me. If there were any smart jokes to at least justify all that nonsence it would have been bareable but no. The only reason i didnt walk out halfway was beacause my mate was asleep in the cinema! I REALLY wished i missed that flasher running in slow motion that was so unnessasary.

Tony

I thought Seth Rogen put in a great performance in Pineapple Express and I was looking forward to see this film. But Boy, Oh Boy what a terrible film !!!!

betty

Had to leave halfway through, how could anyone willingly want to watch that film in their free time, whoever reviewed it as good, well i'd hate to see what they review as bad. possible the most boring piece of tripe ever.

JT

What film were you watching?!? An unpleasant, unlikeable, unfunny and unnecessary film, with random violence and no good jokes. Seth Rogen has a job on to make it back from this embarrassment!!