Monday, 21 February 2011

Observe and Report (2009) - Darkly comic, but just not comical enough

Viewing context:
Was recommended by a friend after having watched, and really enjoyed, The Other Guys. This was nowhere near as good, so not happy with the recommendation. Friend fails.

Written and Directed by Jody Hill, who was behind a film called Foot Fist Forward, which looks like something similar, but featuring a Karate instructor -hmmm, intriguing.

What Happened:
Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogan) is a shopping mall security guard who takes his job very seriously (vicious understatement). His pledge to catch a flasher takes up most of his concentration as the police force's arrogant detective Harrison (Ray Liota) antagonises Barnhardt regarding his insignificance as a mere security guard.

What it did particularly well:
Seth Rogan's character was surprisingly complex and was convincingly sympathetic as the depressed and deluded bi-polar sufferer.

What unimpressed or didn't quite reach potential:
Considering you couldn't take any of the supporting characters seriously, it really could have done with being funnier. There were a few flashes of being really funny, but on the whole didn't make me laugh much. Yet, despite having a little connection with the lead character, there wasn't enough substance to justify it not being funny enough.

Underneath its silliness, the film had a pretty grim point on the fact that some people are a little unhinged, or that they don’t really have the mental aptitude to achieve what contemporary society leads them to believe they can achieve. He never wanted to be a cop, he just thought that he should want to; that he should aspire for the greatest. This insatiable need for the individual to rise, to be all that he can be is born of the same American dream sentiment as western consumerism, which as a defender of a mall (the temple of western consumption), he has been surrounded by his entire working life.

Performance of the film:
Ray Liota comes close, as it is his character's interjections that elevate Seth Rogan's performance, but ultimately it is Rogan that carries the film, and as mentioned above, he was the only thing to form a genuine connection with here.

Scene of the film:
Got to be the one where he kicks the shit out of the guys on the street corner; cracked me up and showed a more competent side to a character that you were led to believe was completely inept, thus giving him that bit more depth than just the lovable cluts.

Final Word:
Considering I was recommended this after having seen The Other Guys, I was a little disappointed that it came nowhere near the quality of Ferrel and Wahlberg's shinanigans.

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