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I went into Observe and Report expecting another filthy, raunchy comedy typical to what Seth Rogen has done before. If you know his prior works, then you know exactly what I am talking about. I am a huge fan of most of the films Seth Rogen and his clan of friends have done before, but unfortunately Observe and Report didn’t deliver anything new. This film was not written by Rogen like many of the films he is featured in even though this film is very similar to his others. However, I am sure director and writer Jody Hill knew the style in which Seth Rogen would make a perfect match. Lately I have seen quite a few comedies with the same type of over-the-top comedy and it may have persuaded my feelings toward this movie. Nonetheless, throughout the entire film I kept asking myself, “Haven’t I seen this before?”
Many critics have already related this new mall cop film to Kevin James’s Paul Blart’s Mall Cop film that came out in January. This is not what I meant by saying that I have seen this before. In fact, I never saw Paul Blart, but rather feel that Jody Hill is just trying to profit off of past successful Seth Rogen’s movies by using the same recipe. Sure, Paul Blart’s Mall Cop has a similar plot with a similar mall cop character, but I wouldn’t be worried about that if you want to see Observe and Report. It’s Seth Rogen doing what he does best except we have seen him do this before with a better screenplay. This time there just isn’t much substance.
Seth Rogen is a mall cop, Ronnie Barnhardt, at the Forest Ridge Mall in New Mexico. He is very proud to be Head of Security as he lets it get to his head. Ronnie loves his authority and thinks of himself as an almighty police officer, but he is actually just another mall cop whose sole purpose is to just observe and report the customers in the mall.“Ronnie takes his job far too seriously,” Seth Rogen stated in an interview. “He’s sees the mall where he works as the world—you get the sense that he doesn’t leave very often.”
Ronnie bluntly is a not-so-smart loser living with his alcoholic mother, Celia Weston, whom he loves very much. There is of course the love story with Brandi, played by Scary Movie star Anna Farris, who plays a “hot” blonde working in cosmetics that Ronnie is deeply infatuated with. Brandi is one of those stereotypical Sorority type party animals that does not know when to stop drinking. When a flasher arrives to the mall and starts terrorizing customers, Ronnie realizes this is his chance to win her over. There is always that other girl too that he doesn’t notice right in front of him the entire time. Nothing new here.
Okay, so the plot is not anything special. Fortunately, there are quite a few laugh-out-loud moments and very memorable scenes. On the other hand, if you thought the full frontal nudity in Forgetting Sarah Marshall was bad; Observe and Report beats that exponentially. This is no CGI blue penis either. I’m talking about long shots of a fat man running around a mall with his tiny package flopping around at every leap.
The cast does a great job working with what they were given though. Ray Liotta fits right in as the detective that comes in after a burglary. Anna Farris executes her character perfectly, and the sidekicks of Ronnie, the other rent-a-cops, do a fantastic job. Although, by the end I still felt like they missed the benchmark.
If you get past the male genitals and the jokes, there is nothing else to this movie. Then again, it is Seth Rogen’s Mall Cop after all. Although I laughed… a little, and I think the 18 to 24-year-old college market will get some enjoyment out of it, I don’t see this being another one of Rogen’s classics.