Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Under 250: Observe and Report

I have observed, and I'm now here to report that this film is hugely disappointing. Months ago, when Jody Hill's (Foot Fist Way, "Eastbound & Down") Observe and Report was floating around the theaters, i'd looked forward to it, and why not? Here was a film purported to be severely deranged starring comic actor of the moment Seth Rogen, an anti-Paul Blart with raw humor and a more depressing take on the world of retail, the way i saw it: what wasn't to like? As it turns out, even though it's all of these things, there's a lot not to like. Disregarding the inflammatory claims of date rape (the scene in question sits in a grey area within the context of the film), the most offensive aspect of Observe and Report is simply that it's not so funny. Unless your definition of humor is constructed solely around repetitive use of the word "fuck", the script leaves a lot to be desired. There are clunky subplots, slapped together resolutions, off putting modes of character development. On the surface, the film is actually closer to dramatic tragedy than comedy, Rogen's protagonist is a confused man-child suffering from serious psychological disorders and struggling to find a place in a world that he's not fully able to function in. While Rogen himself makes a convincing latent sociopath, alternating effortlessly between naivete and rage, the film's own bi-polar tendencies undermine the movie. Observe and Report can't decide if it's Falling Down or Police Academy. The side characters are wacky cliches and the scenes tend towards the comic absurd, but in the end it's rooted in something too heavy to succeed under the constraints its created for itself. The result is that the jokes fall flat and the drama occupies an uncomfortable terrain that the audience stews in. While part of me appreciated the unconventional route and the level of commitment needed to keep this story operating at the level it does, i have to admit i was dubious and a little bored.
2 out of 5.
Observe and Report, dir. Jody Hill, starring Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Ray Liotta, Michael Pena. Rated R. Running Time: 86 minutes.

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