Flashing among other stuff, a fiendish humor with a vengeance from the starting gate with mind blowing humor that is no laughing matter, Observe And Report is distinguished if for nothing else, than sheer innovative and delightfully nervy comic sensibility. Boasting a psycho superhero in this extreme character makeover for an adventurous Seth Rogen, the movie is also daring for Hollywood’s bid – likely a result of economic crisis box office blues – to hedge bets by radically releasing an inner depraved indie soul.
Rogen is Ronnie Barnhardt, a butt kicking head cop at a burb mall, with thwarted aspirations to big time dreams (for him) as a real policeman. That is, save for his history of bipolar disorder and various restraining orders taken out against him by other employees there. When a hit and run guerrilla flasher in nothing but a raincoat and sneakers starts terrorizing the mall, Barnhardt seizes the opportunity to turn covert vigilante, collar the suspect and impress the local precinct enough to finally earn a badge.
In no way a conventional vigilante, Barnhardt isn’t motivated by the lack of police enthusiasm around him. He’s rather furious about the involvement of Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) as an interloper perceived as precipitating a competing turf war necessitating vigilante action.
This mall, or rather maul cop, when not beating up surfer kids in the parking lot with their own skateboards, is also out to impress the ditzy girl gone wild makeup counter hottie Brandi (Anna Faris) with his macho approach to crimefighting. But Brandi, a less Knocked Up than knocked out boozer, who is fond of calling barmaids ‘nurse’ while downing endless rounds, is only interested in the smitten cop for his stash of prescribed psychotropic meds she recycles as aphrodisiacs.
Observe And Report lets it all hang out, so to speak, as that elusive flasher keeps Barnhardt in frantic chase mode for the duration. And the wicked humor never lets up, as the tone deliciously darkens along the way, just when you thought there was nowhere further demented left to go.
Writer/director Jody Hill first cut his teeth on the far less effective The Foot Fist Way, a mere dress rehearsal for the full blown character lunacy in evidence with Observe And Report. And that Taxi Driver is Hill’s favorite flick and Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle served as inspiration for the masterminding of Seth Rogen’s poster child for police brutality character, is entirely no surprise.
Observe And Report: Better than Blart and Dirtier Than Harry.
3 1/2 stars