Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogan) is, to his annoyance, limited to brandishing a flashlight and perhaps his baton, but a pervert eagerly whips out his. From the get go, OBSERVE AND REPORT
delves right into the raunchiness without hesitation -- and I approve. Terrorizing unsuspecting patrons of the Forest Ridge Mall, he flashes his goods, family jewels and all, with a sick exuberance. Hilarious, this opening scene had me ready for more craziness of this caliber.
Hair cropped short and a bit trimmer, this isnít the aimless, but lovable weed-smoking schlub weíve come to know in PINEAPPLE EXPRESS and KNOCKED UP. Seth has lost those curls and transformed into Ronnie, head of mall security, a character who has authority, and purpose, just not to the extent that he so passionately believes. Socially awkward, he has no filter on what he says or does, and appropriately, still lives with his perpetually plastered mother. Driven, determined, but disillusioned, Ronnie sees this fat, enthusiastic flasher (who eventually violently assaults our eyes with his jiggly bits, and to my delight, in slow motion) as the perfect opportunity to show how amazing he is at his job and to protect and subsequently, get with Brandi (Anna Farris), the cosmetics counter girl heís been pining over.
Indifferent to whether he succeeds or fails, I couldnít care less about Ronnie Barnhardt. And itís not because heís a self-absorbed dick, as even he self-proclaims, slapping a not so appealing Polaroid of the perpís penis onto his forehead. My problem is that thereís no backstory. no character development; we only see Ronnie as this medicated, pathetic loser. That Rogan tackled a character so opposite from the ones heís previously portrayed, is admirable, but his believability as this character lacks strength. Dennis (Michael Pena), Ronnieís right hand man, an effeminate, Hispanic subordinate guard, who, with his perm has the air of a pimp, sealing the deal with a lisp, is brilliant. Known for his dramatic performances, CRASH and WORLD TRADE CENTER, Pena has created this intriguing character, frequently stealing the scene. Anna Farris, as Roganís love interest, is perfect as the stereotypical blond bimbo who only becomes interested in Ronnie, only after downing a few shots of tequila and popping some of his Clonazepam. Vacuous and loose, thereís not much to this tramp. Detective Harrison, (Ray Liotta) (going from enemy to his inspiration), proves as a perfect foil and appropriate competition for Rogan as he desperately tries to solve the crime before Liotta and the police. The mother (Celia Weston) who, like her son, is impulsive, is piss drunk for most of the interactions, but manages some laudable moments with Rogan. The sleazy lotion dealer (Azir Ansari) who Ronnie affectionately calls, Saddamn, delivers one of the best lines, one of the few that had me LOL, referencing Chick-fil-A.
Director Jody Hillís OBSERVE AND REPORT is fresh, bizarre, and ballsy however the laughs were few and far in between. The plot due to the script, seemed scattered, its logic (non-existent?) confusing the hell out me, and scenes oftentimes left me wondering, ďHuh, where did that come fromÖ?Ē After a drug bender, Ronnie and Dennis are seen cruising around on a golf cart, mercilessly beating the crap out of a group of teen skateboarders, for no apparent reason, than for their twisted enjoyment. Not only did I fail to see where this fit into the flick, I was lost to where the humor lay in this beat down as well. Nor do I understand why there are no repercussions for his, erratic and bat shit crazy actions. The script is everywhere and going nowhere; much could have been done in regards to its cohesiveness.
The movie is filled with so many other scenes that are vapid, flat, and their accompanying lines, usually missing their mark. While the script does have a few good laughs, and the characters do their best with what they were given, it is to my disappointment, poorly written. I get that though this film is deemed a comedy, has strong dark undertones pulsing through it. But I canít get with a film thatís humor unfortunately lies in going for shock value, thus only eliciting some cheap, however uneasy, laughs. Itís going for edginess dishing out a slew of f---ks in numerous variations; it gets to be too much, and it tires out easily. His mother casually revealing (as a come on to Dennis) that sheís screwed a few of Ronnieís high school friends, doesnít do much for the story or her character; itís random and unnecessary.
OBSERVE AND REPORT is clearly offbeat, but itís also sadistic, and unapologetic. Nudity, violence, rampant drug use, the uh, questionable sex scene -- I can handle. Yet the packaging is a hot mess, incoherent, hard to swallow, and just as desperate as Ronnie.