Hill likes his men macho.
he likes his protagonists macho… and delusional. As
a director, Hill has made a living of telling the story
of blowhard, testosterone-laden meatheads with their heads
so far up their own asses they have no clue how the real
world works (i.e.: The Foot Fist Way,
HBO’s Eastbound and Down). Hill likes to
explore similar themes in his films such as vanity and vulnerability,
pride and shallowness, regret and redemption. In doing so
though, he creates movies that are peeks behind the curtain
of many a façade in American life. It’s almost
like he picks the most douchey of people and then tries
to write a compelling film around their sad and pathetic
did just that, it might just come off mean, but Hill does
one better. He humanizes all of his subjects and creates
honest comedy from real pain. Hill’s new film, Observe
and Report starring Seth Rogen, continues the trend,
telling the story of a bi-polar mall security guard who’s
heading towards some dark days.
like Hill's other films, Observe and Report takes
another stereotypical American cultural archetype and explores
its unpleasant underbelly. In Foot Fist, Hill took
on the bullish Tae Kwon Do instructor type, in Eastbound
he speared southern professional baseball pros and here
he takes on yet another snicker-inspiring role, that of
the Mall Cop. Not to be confused with the other recent and
more successful Mall Cop Movie, Paul Blart: Mall Cop,
Hill’s Observe and Report is an R rated trek
into madness as it straps you in and drags you along with
one man’s personal breakdown.
Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, a chubby,
hapless head of security at a New Mexico shopping mall.
Surrounded by a motley crew of knuckleheaded underlings,
Ronnie is king of his food court, patrolling the grounds
and keeping things safe, all the while pining for the hot
make up counter girl Brandi (The amazingly effective Anna
Farris). When a pervert flasher strikes the mall and traumatizes
poor Brandi, Ronnie makes it his mission to catch the pervert
and protect the mall at all costs.
way is Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta). Not respecting Ronnie’s
authority, Harrison leads the real investigation and swoops
in on Ronnie’s assumed territory creating a bitter
rivalry… at least in Ronnie’s eyes. It this
rivalry and ultimately this case, though, that ignites something
deep inside Ronnie. A change begins to happen in Ronnie
Barnhardt and quirky movie quickly turns into dark comedy.
and Report is a strong film, and may be Hill’s
best so far. It’s so very nuanced and full of quirk,
but at the same time it is so very real and blunt. Ronnie
can be immediately written off as a cartoon mall cop stereotype,
but Hill and more importantly Rogen make Ronnie a person.
Ronnie is cocksure and confident in uniform, but timid and
loving to his grossly alcoholic mother (Celia Weston). He’s
an eager and willing student to fellow security guard Dennis
(the over the top yet satisfyingly funny Michael Peña
) and fatherly and mentoring to his other mall cop minions.
has bi-polar disorder, and after a life changing altercation
with some street thugs, Ronnie is off his meds. This mall
cop has depth, and Observe and Report suddenly
becomes a film you can’t take your eyes off of.
for the masses, Observe and Report is going to
disappoint the casual film goer who’s looking for
the next Knocked Up. This film pushes a lot of
society’s boundaries and requires insight to see a
lot of the satire that’s inconspicuously strewn throughout
points the film is even narrated by Rogen a la
Robert Deniro and brings on that dirty Taxi Driver
feel. Like Travis Bickle, all Ronnie wants is to protect
the innocent, even it means becoming the beast he’s
trying to stop.
and Report may sound like it has a real heavy premise
but it is actually a pretty funny comedy. However, it’s
a comedy that’s packaged within a very strong movie
about macho delusions of grandeur and manliness. Seth Rogen
gives one of the strongest acting performances of his career
and proves that he’s not just the comedy “it
boy” of the moment and that he’s actually a
talented performer with a long future ahead of him.
only problem I had with the film was that I felt like the
ending chickened out and that possibly the studio had pushed
for a more suitable ending. If anyone watched the alternate
ending of Foot Fist Way, they might understand
I was quite impressed with what Jody Hill accomplished with
Observe and Report and feel it is a film that will
go underappreciated with the mass audiences but will be
respected and revered for years to come.