Title – Observe and Report (2009)
Director – Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way)
Cast – Seth Rogen, Anna Farris, Ray Liotta, Michael Pena, Jesse Plemons
Plot – Mentally unstable mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen) is on a mission to stop a local pervert from terrorising his turf, whilst also trying to win the affections of Brandi (Farris), the girl of his dreams.
“You don’t need to thank me. I’m just a guy with a gun”
Review by Eddie on 29/07/2019
It may seem like a controversial decision to label cult 2009 comedy Observe and Report a classic, but Jody Hills sophomore feature, following on from his underground success with The Foot Fist Way, is one of the finest examples of pitch black comedy of the modern era that also underneath its tough exterior offers an eye-opening account of mental illness and other taboo subject matters for the genre.
Attracting a name brand cast that’s led by one of Seth Rogen’s most impressive and undervalued performances and supported by the likes of Anna Farris, Ray Liotta, Michael Pena and Jesse Plemons, Hill’s middle-budget offering that introduces us to the wild and complicated world of Rogen’s mentally clouded mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt and his quest to find and bring to justice a local perverted criminal terrorising the shopping centre his sworn to predict isn’t light comedy but Hill’s ability to extract laughs from dark, confronting and often shocking situations is some type of skill.
Whether this is good or bad will depend entirely on your mindset when watching the film.
It’s not hard to see why Report polarized critics upon initial release, with some taking it to task over its subject matter and more shocking scenes, while others applauded Rogen’s impressively considered turn and Hill’s insistence on not shying away from the darkness of his tale yet in the 10 years on from it initial release, it feels as though Report is only growing in stature with its unique stylings and narrative seemingly even more relevant in today’s climate.
There’s no doubt that Report isn’t a film for everyone, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to hear that someone will watch the film without a hearty laugh to be found while others will watch and have the polar opposite response to Barnhardt’s increasingly wild and over imaginative quest to win the girl of his dreams, enact justice and potentially join the police force as a one man shotgun wielding army.
It’s a simplistic set-up and Hill isn’t afraid to throw in an abundance of rude, crude and immature gags around the place but look a little deeper and not only is Rogen delivering a much more impressive performance than the cover would suggest, but so is Hill.
This skill that was arguably underappreciated here, yet was explored in very similar manners in HBO hits Eastbound and Down and Vice Principals, that saw Hill reach mainstream critical and audience recognition, meaning any fans of those works would do well to seek out this confronting and no-holds barred journey into the mind of a delusional yet well-meaning soul who wants nothing more than to please in a world that discounts him at every turn.
Final Say –
A truly unique and undeniably bizarre comedy ride that is as pitch black as they come, Observe and Report most certainly isn’t for mass market appeal but 10 years of time have done nothing but enhance the feeling that Hill’s hidden gem was ahead of its time and far deeper than it was given credit for when it was first judged, made only better by the fact it features a career best turn from Rogen.
4 Polaroids out of 5