By Dave Campbell | March 20, 2009
Director: Jody Hill
Writer(s): Jody Hill
Starring: Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Ray Liotta
I want to address this up front…Observe and Report was in production before they caught wind of a PG-rated mall security guard movie. The similarities end with the job role of the lead characters so let’s move on.
Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) is the head of security for the Forest Ridge Mall. He leads his patrol team in dealing with shoplifters, unruly customers, and ridding the parking lot of skateboarders while preparing to fulfill his dreams of joining the police force. Finally his chance to prove himself comes when a flasher begins to terrorize shoppers and employees of the mall. Driven to protect patrons and his victimized make-up counter-dream girl Brandi (Anna Faris), Ronnie vows to bring the perpetrator to justice and solidify his spot in the police academy. But his ambitions of glory fall flatter than expected when a jurisdictional war is waged with Police Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta). Ronnie is now challenged with the feat of nabbing the flasher and doing so before the cops get him first.
There is a pretty diverse group of characters in this film, all with their own issues and likable traits. Seth Rogen plays this role with care as he shows us how delusional Ronnie is, but allows little glimmers of hope to shine through during Ronnie’s moments of truth. You may have no problem challenging him to a battle of wits but his physical brute tactics may surprise you. He’s a God among anti-heroes and shades apart from the ones you’ve seen before. Rogen, along with Hill’s writing somehow keep the character of Ronnie likable even though he’s an enormous bag which is used for body cavity irrigation.
Anna Faris had some fun with her character Brandi. She may be sexy on the outside but the moment she speaks the turn offs never seem to end. She unleashes an annoying party girl with zero edit button and no shame. Faris gives Brandi no regard for anyone’s feelings but her own and makes no apologies for it. This of course combined with Faris’ knowledge and ability of comic timing score laughs and memorable moments that will stay with you.
Ray Liotta pretty much plays the standard Ray Liotta a-hole as Detective Harrison, but the role calls for it. He brings his scream-y intensity and vindictive glare to add conflict to Ronnie’s world. The adorable Collette Wolfe plays Nell, the only person in the mall that really gets Ronnie and never judges him. She is sweet and endearing with a silly innocence. Also supporting are Celia Weston as Ronnie’s alcoholic Mom and Michael Peña as the ghetto minded and effeminate sounding Dennis who is Ronnie’s second in command. Jesse Plemons plays the clueless new security recruit Charles, and we are introduced to the Armageddon ready twins John Yuen & Matt Yuen who play themselves as security infantry and complete the Ronnie’s team.
We are also treated to two brilliant cameo performances by Danny McBride as a Caucasian Crackhead and Aziz Ansari as Saddamn the kiosk salesman.
Rated R for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence...INDEED! This movie is an awesomely dark and twisted comedy. I love uncomfortable humor and this film is filled to the rim with it. If you are familiar with Director Jody Hill’s other work like The Foot Fist Way and the HBO Original Series Eastbound And Down you are aware of his style and how well he deals it out. Hill has taken a leap forward with his new found budget and kudos to Warner Brothers for going along with this unconventional comedy and allowing them to make the crazy movie they created. Mega bursts of laughter and surprised gasps roared from me and the entire audience throughout the film. It’s original, daring, and takes chances comedy should. After this comes out everyone will be saying…Paul Blart who?