johnlink ranks OBSERVE AND REPORT (2009)

Comedy is usually not my go-to genre. I prefer hyphenated comedies (i.e action-comedy, horror-comedy, or dramedy (okay, no hyphen there)). But I am always up for a good dark-comedy… wait that’s hyphenated. I don’t think I have a point here. Anyway, OBSERVE AND REPORT fell under that category, and I’ve found Seth Rogen to be very watchable, so I gave this a shot as it dropped on HBOHD.

I watched OBSERVE AND REPORT (2009)  on 10.11.10. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE.

I have truly mixed feelings about this film. On the one hand, it tells the story of Ronnie,  an antihero who is flawed. His mother has ruined him in many ways, and he is both ultra-sensitive and blindly parading around in a world he doesn’t quite fit in. Its tragic how out of place he is, and his mall is the one place he feels right. Even if everybody else in the mall feels like they are in a dead end job, or feels like Ronnie is a complete tool, he feels at home.

On the other hand, Ronnie is a racist, a man who takes advantage of a drugged out drunk girl (sort of), and beats teenagers when he’s angry. He’s severely flawed, but the film allows him to find some form of redemption. I would have less of a problem with this if he was able to resolve more of his issues, but the film embraces his flaws. On his last heroic stint, he stops to punch out Aziz Ansari, who he earlier referred to as Saddam, for no reason at all. Also, moments later, he exhibits an excessive amount of force which underlines the film’s major thread: He’s not fit to be a cop, but he’s too intense to be a mall security guard.

I liked much in this film. Ray Liotta plays the police officer who becomes Ronnie’s chief rival. Ansari is also very good in his limited scenes. There are also a couple of very solid moments, which include Ronnie getting dropped off on a dangerous street corner, Ronnie talking to his mother about why his father left, and Ronnie with the police psychologist.

There’s much I didn’t like either. Anna Faris has never done it for me as an actress, and she’s really annoying in this film. The morality of this thing is loose and undefined, which I suppose is a reflection of real life, but I just didn’t find it consistent in any form here. A scene involving a drugged up Ronnie beating on some skateboarding kids also felt extremely shallow.

Look, I know it is a dark comedy for a reason. I have no problem with flawed heroes being imperfect. But I like to see some sort of character growth from beginning to end, some sense that the world is better off, or the character is better off, or SOMETHING is better off, even if its in a form of bleakness. Or, on the other hand, you see everything fail, and people have learned some sort of a lesson. But the moral of this film? At the end, things are mostly where they were when we started. As with many comedies, I’d probably have to watch this again to see if I’m missing something, but I’m not sure this made me want to do that.



The negative bonus is for music which never felt in place. While none of the pieces chosen were bad, per se, I often felt the selection didn’t fit the film in the right places. It felt like a high school kid making a video, and shoving his favorite songs onto the soundtrack, reasoning be damned.



~ by johnlink00 on October 13, 2010.

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