Rogen takes his frustrated "real cop" wannabe into angry, profane and seriously anti-social places that the dimwitted Blart would never go. Observe and Report is a funnier movie, but also an unhappier one. The star and members of the team that made The Foot Fist Way and Pineapple Express find their laughs in flashers (full frontal nudity), firing range fantasies, cocaine, crudity and simple shock value.
Observe and Report
Cast: Seth Rogen, Ray Liotta, Anna Faris, Michael Peña.
Director: Jody Hill.
Running time: 1 hour 26 minutes.
Industry rating: R for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence.
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Rogen is Ronnie Barnhardt, a rent-a-badge "head of mall security" at Forest Ridge Mall. He's touchy about labels. He may not get to carry a gun, but call him a "security guard" and deal with his profane wrath.
"We got Tasers. We got mace. It's not bad," he tells his troops, who include Michael Peña (World Trade Center), a snicker in his first big comic role.
Whatever his work misgivings, Ronnie's mall has a flasher and that gives Ronnie purpose. He must protect the fair Brandi. Anna Faris, a Pamela Anderson with talent, gives this cosmetics-counter bombshell a brazen, tequila shots-pounding verve. She's shallow but still isn't falling for Ronnie's tactless, politically incorrect come-ons. But Nell (Collette Wolfe), the donut-shop girl next door, just might.
The flasher and a burglary bring Ronnie into conflict with a real cop, played by Ray Liotta on a slow burn.
But as similar as the characters and many of the plot points are to Mall Cop, writer-director Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way) never shies from taking Observe into the dark recesses of Ronnie's bi-polar mind. Ronnie and the boys hit the shooting range with all manner of deadly weapons. Dumping him in the worst neighborhood in town (Danny McBride plays a drug dealer) doesn't turn out the way you'd expect.
His drunken mom (the great Celia Weston) may fret over his medication when she's sober enough to remember. Without his meds, Ronnie is even more delusional than usual. And violent.
"I'm a cook, and I'm serving up justice!"
The movie's sinister streak makes it impossible to cozy up to, and Rogen's performance -- despite a surprising athletic competence (fights, stunts) -- is clumsier than usual owing to the actor-playing-poseur nature of the role.
But in its own demented Pineapple-Foot Fist-Four Letter Word Way, Observe and Report delivers a cynical, angry and funny take on a life of loud, violent desperation.
Roger Moore can be reached at 407-420-5369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.