Observe and Report

    While any Judd Apatow junky will recognize the unlikely hero of ‘Observe and Report’ as the same funnyman who led us through the purple haze in ‘Pineapple Express’ and held our sweaty palms during Lamaze in ‘Knocked Up,’ Rogen puts a new twist on his protagonist, exploring the shadowy bends of a sociopathic conscience.

    As a result, anyone in search of the same witty one-liners and stoney antics that made the comedian a household name will surely be disappointed. Or at least caught off-guard, by director Jody Hill’s (‘The Foot Fist Way’) inability to lend her low-brow norm any redeeming sociological insight. In other words, she tries to do the Apatow thing (make a funny movie that aptly sums up a modern gernation), but ends up tripping herelf up.

    While ‘Report’ looks to be a ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’ sequel (only with coke lines, tequila and sex), it’s more an unfinished pile of outtakes that lacks any identifiable genre. Under Hill’s direction, the pressing question on everyone’s mind isn’t who’ll have the next celebrity cameo, but rather: Should I be laughing? Frightened? Possibly sad?

    Though Ronnie’s delusions reigning supreme over the food court are entertaining, the fact that he never quite forms a meaningful bond with anyone other than his boozehound mother gets to be more depressing than comedic.

    Which isn’t to say that the film is totally void of all laughter; especially when Lispy Dennis (Michael Pe’ntilde;a) swoops in as the perfect Robin to Ronnie’s Batman. That is, if Batman and Robin were to spend their time clobbering skateboard punks determined to scuff perfectly good sidewalks.

    Juxtapose aforementioned scenes with folk-rock Americana anthems by the Band and the Yardbirds, and you can almost feel the clouds part.

    But the laughs end shortly thereafter, one abrupt buzzkill after another reminding us that ‘Report’ isn’t just about heckling Arab kiosk vendors and mocking the token Mexican janitor. It also brings mishandled seriousness to the table, blanketing everythign in the suffocating weight of sinister aleinated-security guard psychoanalysis. The same guard who, as witnessed during shooting-range sessions, could potentially mow down the entire mall.

    So it goes without saying that the arrival of the hard-nosed detective (Ray Liotta) hired to replace Ronnie as head of the flasher task force puts us on edge as we await our antihero’s ticking time bomb to spark under pressure. Once Ronnie stops taking his pills, he begins stalking Brandi (Anna Faris) and confronts the obstacles in the way of his police ambition; understandable (and unnerving) tension ensues.

    With disjointed transitions from poor-tasted wheelchair humor to slow-motion chase sequences, the soul-surrendering confessionals try to thread too many multicolored strings. While Hill might’ve wanted to parallel her bipolar protagonist’s identity crisis with her plot, she ends up miring both tone and purpose.

    By the end, sympathy for the misunderstood bipolar kid is in direct conflict with the lurking paranoia we feel every time he enters the screen after revealing himself as a potential murder. A colleague of Detective Harrison summarizes the sour aftertaste best: ‘I thought this was going to be funny. But it’s actually kind of sad.’

    ” />

    1.5/5

    The ingredients for a successful Rogen comedy are all here: a well-intentioned schmuck with a regretful job, a hot blonde way out of his league, the requisite stash marijuana, a couple of unhinged sidekicks and, of course, a never-ending string of racial slurs hawked by cookie-cutter characters.

    After a flasher with tummy rolls that’d make the Pillsbury doughboy squeal threatens the safety of Forest Ridge Mall, it’s up to Ronnie (Seth Rogen) ‘mdash; a bipolar, baton-wielding rent-a-cop living with his mom ‘mdash; to restore order.

    And really, the film’s plot doesn’t need much more synopsis than that.

    While any Judd Apatow junky will recognize the unlikely hero of ‘Observe and Report’ as the same funnyman who led us through the purple haze in ‘Pineapple Express’ and held our sweaty palms during Lamaze in ‘Knocked Up,’ Rogen puts a new twist on his protagonist, exploring the shadowy bends of a sociopathic conscience.

    As a result, anyone in search of the same witty one-liners and stoney antics that made the comedian a household name will surely be disappointed. Or at least caught off-guard, by director Jody Hill’s (‘The Foot Fist Way’) inability to lend her low-brow norm any redeeming sociological insight. In other words, she tries to do the Apatow thing (make a funny movie that aptly sums up a modern gernation), but ends up tripping herelf up.

    While ‘Report’ looks to be a ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’ sequel (only with coke lines, tequila and sex), it’s more an unfinished pile of outtakes that lacks any identifiable genre. Under Hill’s direction, the pressing question on everyone’s mind isn’t who’ll have the next celebrity cameo, but rather: Should I be laughing? Frightened? Possibly sad?

    Though Ronnie’s delusions reigning supreme over the food court are entertaining, the fact that he never quite forms a meaningful bond with anyone other than his boozehound mother gets to be more depressing than comedic.

    Which isn’t to say that the film is totally void of all laughter; especially when Lispy Dennis (Michael Pe’ntilde;a) swoops in as the perfect Robin to Ronnie’s Batman. That is, if Batman and Robin were to spend their time clobbering skateboard punks determined to scuff perfectly good sidewalks.

    Juxtapose aforementioned scenes with folk-rock Americana anthems by the Band and the Yardbirds, and you can almost feel the clouds part.

    But the laughs end shortly thereafter, one abrupt buzzkill after another reminding us that ‘Report’ isn’t just about heckling Arab kiosk vendors and mocking the token Mexican janitor. It also brings mishandled seriousness to the table, blanketing everythign in the suffocating weight of sinister aleinated-security guard psychoanalysis. The same guard who, as witnessed during shooting-range sessions, could potentially mow down the entire mall.

    So it goes without saying that the arrival of the hard-nosed detective (Ray Liotta) hired to replace Ronnie as head of the flasher task force puts us on edge as we await our antihero’s ticking time bomb to spark under pressure. Once Ronnie stops taking his pills, he begins stalking Brandi (Anna Faris) and confronts the obstacles in the way of his police ambition; understandable (and unnerving) tension ensues.

    With disjointed transitions from poor-tasted wheelchair humor to slow-motion chase sequences, the soul-surrendering confessionals try to thread too many multicolored strings. While Hill might’ve wanted to parallel her bipolar protagonist’s identity crisis with her plot, she ends up miring both tone and purpose.

    By the end, sympathy for the misunderstood bipolar kid is in direct conflict with the lurking paranoia we feel every time he enters the screen after revealing himself as a potential murder. A colleague of Detective Harrison summarizes the sour aftertaste best: ‘I thought this was going to be funny. But it’s actually kind
    of sad.’

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