April 10, 2009

Seth Rogen – Laying Down the Law

Print More

Hundreds of students flooded Uris Auditorium Wednesday night for the sneak preview of Observe and Report anticipating some of the lovable Seth Rogen unfiltered and inappropriate humor. He did not disappoint. Any hopes of vulgarity, crudeness or indecency were fulfilled; as far as substance, meaning or refinement, not so much. Although the movie isn’t entirely overboard, as many students exiting the movie indicated, it absolutely crosses the line on so many levels.
Sex, drugs and tasers — one thing is for sure about Observe and Report (the second mall cop movie of 2009) Ronnie Barhardt would kick Paul Blart’s roly-poly ass.
The two films have seemingly similar plot lines: two overweight mall security guards with bigger aspirations in life than patrolling the floors of food courts and discount shoe stores are faced with serious criminal activity and forced to showcase their under-appreciated law enforcement talents. However, these two films (and characters) are actually quite different. In fact, Paul Blart: Mall Cop could even be dubbed the Disney version of Observe and Report. Falling under the action/comedy category, Observe and Report succeeds in mastering this presumably contradictory genre. Pairing thrilling and almost scary law enforcement scenes with the expected quote-worthy humor of Seth Rogen, writer and director Jody Hill remains consistent with his reputation for edgy humor.
Ronnie Barhardt (Rogen) is the overconfident, racist, bipolar head of mall security at Forest Ridge Mall where he spends the majority of his time taking advantage of the free coffee he’s entitled to from Toast-A-Bun, stalking and irritating the beautiful make-up counter clerk Brandi (Anna Faris), and convincing his fellow security guards (Michael Pena, John Yuan, and Matt Yuan) that he is the law.
Although Ronnie is a big fish in the small pond of Forest Ridge Mall, his lifelong goal is to become an actual police officer. Taking the initiative to make that dream come true, he begins the application process at the Police Academy after the mall becomes endangered by a serial flasher.
This perverted criminal has been raiding Ronnie’s parking lot flashing helpless women for no reason on several occasions and Ronnie is not about to let those actions continue. However, before he really gets the chance to put forth an investigative effort (which at the time seemed doubtful), his boss calls in Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta), the seasoned police officer guaranteed to save the day. Ronnie views this situation as his chance to prove to everyone that he is destined to be a police officer; feeling threatened and underappreciated, he concludes that he will just have to locate the flasher before Harrison does. With his team of quirky and incapable security guards on board their haphazard operation gets underway.
There were a few hilariously memorable scenes including one particular priceless encounter with the man working at the lotion kiosk in the middle of the mall (who happened to be of a different ethnicity than Ronnie). In addition, the mother-son relationship between Rogen and Celia Weston added another amusing dimension to the film, and Faris still rules the world of dense, shallow air-headed blondes. (Although unlike her role as Shelly in House Bunny, there really is nothing more to Brandi than big earrings and fake boobs). Overall this comical cast plays off of each other well to create this unconventional studio comedy.
Follow this motley crew on their eventful journey to capture the mall pervert, but brace yourself for a plethora of obscene jokes and references (and the occasional “flash” of nudity). A college-aged audience laughed considerably for a good portion of the film, but is it worthy of recommendation to an older adult crowd? Not unless crude comedy is their thing.
Mastering inappropriate to a tee, there actually is a moral lesson to be learned throughout Observe and Report: always believe in yourself in order to rise above diversity. Through a rollercoaster of drugs, depression, broken-hearted Ronnie manages never to lose sight of his dreams or lose confidence in himself. He is beaten betrayed, and doubted everyday, but in the end he comes out on top with modesty nonetheless, “Don’t thank me; I’m just a guy with a gun.”