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Jody Hill
Seth Rogen, Ray Liotta, Michael PeŮa, Anna Faris, Dan Bakkedahl, Jesse Plemons, John Yuan, Matt Yuan
Writing Credits:
Jody Hill

Right now, the world needs a hero.

Bargain hunters at Forest Ridge Mall get more than they bargained for: a chubby flasher in a ratty bathrobe. They're repulsed. Security guard Ronnie Barnhardt isn't: "This disgusting pervert is the best thing that ever happened to me!" Catching the flasher may be his ticket to a real police job and to romance with a hot cosmetics-counter princess. Only one thing stands between Ronnie and destiny: a tall, handsome cop who actually knows what he's doing. Seth Rogen, Anna Faris and Ray Liotta star in this mall-to-wall comedy covering acres of wild, sometimes raunchy, up-in-your-grill funny - all under one roof.

Box Office:
$18 million.
Opening Weekend
$11.017 million on 2727 screens.
Domestic Gross
$23.930 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Fullscreen 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 9/22/09

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Observe And Report (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 9, 2009)

On paper, 2009ís Observe and Report looked like a stinker. It came from writer/director Jody Hill, the ďmastermindĒ behind the awful Foot Fist Way, it starred the seriously overexposed Seth Rogen, and it featured a plot that seemed like little more than a rehash of Paul Blart: Mall Cop. How could it not suck?

Perhaps my low expectations were a factor, but I must admit I liked Observe more than I expected. The film takes place at Forest Ridge Mall, where a chubby pervert (Randy Gambill) causes havoc: he routinely exposes himself to shoppers in the parking lot. This greatly offends chief mall security guard Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen), who makes it his mission to stop the flasher.

Already pretty intense, he becomes even more focused when the perv traumatizes makeup girl Brandi (Anna Faris), the girl over whom he obsesses. Ronnie hopes to catch the flasher so he can prove his worth to Brandi and make her love him, even though this means he constantly butts head with police Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta).

When I indicated that I liked Observe more than I expected, I didnít mean that as a strong recommendation. I went into the film with exceedingly low expectations; indeed, I figured Iíd hate it just as much as I disliked Foot Fist Way. When Observe proved less obnoxious, that made it a relative winner.

But that doesnít mean the film excels or delights. Instead, it amuses in a moderate way and thatís about it. Given my expectations, Iíll take it, as at least Observe proves reasonably entertaining from start to finish.

Though it clearly wonít be for everyone. Observe rarely tries to ingratiate itself to the audience. It comes packed with profanity, includes flashes of violence, and boasts the most horrific scene of nudity since Borat. Actually, the skin here may be more revolting, and I never thought Iíd say that.

Even without the violence, profanity and nudity, Observe is a polarizing film just because it so rarely tries to endear itself to the viewer. Ronnie occasionally gives us minor reasons to care for him, but heís usually pretty abrasive. Except for fast food clerk Nell (Collette Wolfe), the other supporting characters tend to be unlikable as well. Indeed, the film clearly makes Brandi a self-absorbed bimbo to give Ronnie a little more humanity by contrast.

Rogen tends to have two performance modes: amiable goofball or angry jerk. He usually goes with the former and just shows flashes of the latter, but here we find the opposite. Ronnie is the kind of character we usually get from Hill collaborator Danny McBride: self-deluded, egocentric and creepy.

I suspect Hill had McBride in mind when he wrote Observe, as Ronnie definitely feels like a McBride character. Since the DVD includes no extras, Iíd guess that Rogen got the part for his moderate marquee value as well as his age; the part makes more sense with someone in his twenties, so the older McBride would make an already off-putting part even spookier.

While Iím pretty sick of him at this point, I canít quibble with Rogenís performance. In other flicks such as Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Rogenís angry side often doesnít fit his character well. Here the edge makes more sense, and in a twist, Ronnieís general abrasiveness allows his flashes of humanity to become more effective.

Not that this is a warm character piece. Observe and Report mostly exists as an outrageous piece of over the top comedy, and it occasionally succeeds. The filmís too aggressive and potentially offensive to work for a mass audience, but it provides decent entertainment for those with a darker sensibility.

The DVD Grades: Picture D+/ Audio C+/ Bonus D-

Observe and Report appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this article. Past Warner Bros. DVDs with two versions tended to look bad, and that trend held true for Observe.

The excessive compression created most of the problems. The film took on a blocky look, and lots of mosquito noises cropped up along the way. Sharpness struggled as well. The movie usually demonstrated adequate definition, but more than a few soft shots emerged along the way. The flick gave us passable delineation and that was about it. Sporadic instances of jagged edges and shimmering occurred, and mild edge enhancement also appeared. At least the flick lacked source flaws, as no print defects showed up here.

Colors appeared decent at best. The general murkiness meant that they lacked much vivacity and tended to seem somewhat drab and flat. Blacks followed suit, as dark elements looked muddy, and shadows were too dense. Low-light shots came across as dull and somewhat tough to discern. This was a consistently weak transfer that deserved a ďD+Ē.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Observe and Report, it offered a more satisfying experience but not an especially memorable one. The soundfield focused on the front spectrum, and music presented the most prominent element. The score showed good stereo imaging, and we got some decent ambience, but that was about it. If the surrounds played a part, I didnít notice them; they added some mild reinforcement and nothing else. This was a low-key experience most of the time.

Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded distinctive and natural, without edginess or other issues. Effects didnít have much to do, but they were acceptable for what they offered. Gunfire was the most prominent element; when shots occurred, they offered nice punch, but they werenít a frequent addition. Music appeared reasonably full and rich. There wasnít enough here to merit a grad above a ďC+Ē, though, so donít expect a memorable soundtrack.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Blu-ray Discs, Terminator: Salvation, Trick Ďr Treat, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Orphan and The Hangover. And thatís it in terms of ďextrasĒ, as nothing else appears here Ė not even the trailer for Observe itself.

Would Observe and Report have fared better if it hadnít quickly followed the similarly plotted Paul Blart: Mall Cop to the big screen? Probably not, as the filmís crudeness and aggressiveness will make it off-putting to most. I canít say I thought it was a great film, but the movie has flashes of humor and provides enough amusement to succeed.

Unfortunately, the DVD works less well. Audio quality is fine, but the picture looks consistently weak, and the disc includes no supplements. I like the film enough to recommend a rental, but the DVD disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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