Popular actor may find new audience with ‘Observe and Report’
April 23, 2009
Obviously, this Seth Rogen guy is a big star right now. In a fortune career boost that arguably started with “40-Year-Old Virgin,” he has continued to churn out a flick every few months, especially within the last year. Unless you have been residing in an Amish farming community, you have at least heard of the guy.
And it only seems like a matter of time before the fans turn on him, much like the way many have gotten tired of the old shtick that Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller have used to death. What may surprise his fans, however, is his performance in “Observe and Report.” The film itself will either gain a new audience or push away the one Rogen already has.
Ronnie Barnhart (Seth Rogen) is the head of mall security, and one day a flasher exposes himself to Ronnie’s crush, Brandi (Anna Faris), as well as a few other unfortunate women in the parking lot. Ronnie thinks he has it all under control, but soon Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) comes onto the scene and takes charge. Feeling threatened and undermined, Ronnie takes it upon himself to find the pervert, while trying to make the world a better place, starting with the mall.
If I were to judge this film solely as a comedy, then I must admit that it is not a very funny movie. There are certainly a few laughs to be had, but they are sparse and nothing too gust-bustingly hilarious. The rivalry between Liotta’s and Rogen’s characters are amusing on their own terms, as the scenes have an amusing flow to them without being too over-the-top or goofy.
What truly makes this film enjoyable yet problematic are its dark elements. It is considered a dark comedy, but as aforementioned above, it is not that much of comedy. So naturally, the dark storyline tends to overshadow the humor and as a result will no doubt turn some people off to it. However, with that said this is the aspect I found the most strong and amusing, as I have a fairly dark sense of humor.
This movie could very well be the “Taxi Driver” of our generation. The character of Ronnie is indeed an ambitious and well-intentioned one, but his actions are very questionable. He beats up skateboarders, uses his nightstick a bit too liberally, snorts lines of cocaine on his break and even commits borderline date rape. Like Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver,” he is an alienated human being that means well, but has a screwed up way of fixing the world. The ending is very reminiscent of that of “Taxi Driver,” in that it leaves you with a mixed opinion on the character.
Of course, “Observe and Report” is not a perfect movie. Although being labeled as a “dark comedy,” the film could have been a bit heavier on the comedy aspect. However, it plays with its dark content nicely, without feeling as if it needs to be lighter in tone in certain parts. As I said, it could be the “Taxi Driver” of our times, but only time will tell. This is definitely the better ‘mall cop’ movie of the year.
José Cruz Jr. is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.