23 July 2009

Observe And Report

I watched and wrote this review a few months ago, but didn't exactly know how or what, to think and write about it. The themes of the film are so convoluted, that any review is likewise unorganized.

This movie isn’t very funny. It is more than a little frightening though. The basic premise is simple. Seth Rogen is Ronny, a security guard (chief of mall security) who takes his job way too seriously. He lusts after a girl who works at the department store makeup counter (Anna Faris). The mall is plagued by a streaker.

I will be the first to admit that I didn’t really ‘get’ this movie, if there is a giant joke looming in the background. I have this sneaking suspicion though, that there isn’t a joke at all. Even if there was, the plot is flimsy, the characters aren’t endearing, and the only real drama comes from a perceived conflict in Ronny’s mind between himself and the real cops. The thing is, Ronny is literally crazy. About halfway through the film the viewer realizes that Ronny has stopped taking the medication for his bi-polar syndrome. The rest of the zaniness that would normally pass for laughs loses its punch. I hardly even want to touch on the issue of date-rape, which is trampled over and (just) barely avoided in this film.

I guess the real reason that I could not understand this movie is the disparate images and themes that the film refers to.

What do Red, Hot, American Summer, Jerry Maguire, Fight Club, and Dazed And Confused have in common? Thematically, nothing. What they do have in common is that all of these films have scenes that are replicated in detail by Director Jody Hill during Observe and Report. The first of these scenes takes place near the end of the film when Ronny first faces the fact that most of the issues are really in his mind. As a result, we see him and another mall security guard going on a drug fueled rampage, ending with Ronny watching as his friend injects heroin into his arm in a bathroom stall (RHAM). Near the end, Hill attempts to conjure three different images from three very different films the final scene of impending doom set to the Trixies’ “Where’s My Mind” (Fight Club), the line “fuck you, fuck you, fuck every one of you” (spoken by O’Bannion in Dazed And Confused), and the raise your hand in triumph even though you are confronted by a large group of people who want you to leave (Jerry Maguire).

See what I mean, these film references, like the rest of the film, doesn't have any coherency.

The only thing this film does have going for it is excellent fight choreography. Unlike many recent superhero films (The Watchmen immediately comes to mind), the fight scenes in this film pull no punches. Ronny fights off a large group of policemen with a maglight and the viewer gets to see it all. No jerky cameras that look away and definitely no too short cuts that confuse. Every swing is catalogued and even looks a little bit messy, like one would expect a real brawl to look like.

Urban: Not Recommended

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