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MOVIE REVIEW

Observe and Report

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence.

Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 26 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
April 10, 2009 (wide—2,727 theaters)
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

NUDITY—Why are humans supposed to wear clothes? Answer

How can I deal with temptations? Answer

What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer

Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem?

Featuring: Seth Rogen
Anna Faris
Michael Peña
Ray Liotta
Patton Oswalt
Danny McBride
See all »
Director: Jody Hill
Producer: De Line Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Donald De Line, Marty P. Ewing, William Fay, Andrew Haas, Jon Jashni, Thomas Tull
Distributor: Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures. Trademark logo.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Seth Rogen’s newest comedy installment is about as awkward as an overweight middle-aged man running through a parking lot in a trench coat flashing people at random. And unfortunately for you as an audience, that’s the basis for the plot of the film. If you’re planning on seeing Observe and Report, buckle up, load up, and get ready to be thoroughly offended.

Ronnie Barnhardt is an out of luck mall cop. He’s made fun of by the girl of his dreams that works in cosmetics (Anna Farris), he’s ridiculed by the middle-eastern kiosk salesman (Aziz Ansari) for being fat and useless, he’s battled and told at every turn that he’s a failure and nothing more than a “rent-a-cop” by Police Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) and the only person that does believe in him is his mother (Celia Weston) who is an unemployed alcoholic that Ronnie takes care of. So when a “serial flasher” strikes the mall that he overseas, Ronnie sees his only chance to finally garner the respect he deserves as cop and as a human being.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, this film is beyond offensive. I stopped counting curse words 20 minutes into the film and decided that it would suffice to explain to the reader that if curse words were dinner courses, Observe and Report would be a Golden Corral buffet line. Example: in one scene, a kiosk salesman (Aziz Ansari) and Ronnie get into an argument and by the end of it are simply saying “f**k you” back and forth. This goes on for a minute straight—no lie. The sexual content is explicit as well. Two short sex scenes are showed, along with two women topless in a changing room, topped off with a prolonged slow motion chase scene anchored on full frontal male nudity that will disturb even the hardest and unaffected of movie goers. Add in a scene of extreme drug use and the few scenes of violence that include beatings dished out by Rogen with a flash light, a police baton and his bare hands along with a very bloody gun shot scene and you have a film that new from the very origins of its script that it was destined for an R rating.

But there are redeeming qualities to this film (believe it or not). Director Jody Hill describes this work as a “dark-comedy,” so although you might not laugh quite as much, in the end you may leave more fulfilled and satisfied because it is meant to prove a point and be more didactic in nature than a “feel good” comedy.

Ronnie’s ongoing relationship with his mother is truly one of love. His mother is a screw up and, ultimately, a detriment to his life. She has no income and is lewd and makes multiple comments about her sexual promiscuity, but he takes care of her and loves her despite her shortcomings. It reminded me a little of a reverse of the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), where in this story, the son cares for the maternal figure simply because she is his mother, not because he is proud of her or condones what she does.

Rogen also shows a moral conscience in the film. Although he is shown using drugs, he makes decisions in the film that show he truly cares about justice and what’s right, not just the fame of carrying a badge and a gun. He cares for a girl who is mistreated by her boss, censures his best friend for stealing and refuses to give up on the crime around the mall even though his job is really just to be a “rent-a-cop.” Ronnie’s status as a symbol of justice in a place so filled with deceit and evil reminded me of how as Christians we’re tested and tempted everyday by those around us (1 Peter 5:8—Be self-controlled and alert, your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour).

The greatest redeeming quality is that this film is funny: I mean laugh out loud in the theater out of shock and awe funny. And although no movie should be condoned for its crudeness simply because it’s funny, if you can withstand and endure the barrage of language, drugs and male parts, you shouldn’t miss “Observe and Report.”

I think ultimately this comedy works because it’s true to life. The characters are so full of themselves that they truly remind me of how people can be so prideful (Proverbs 16:18—Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall) and caught up in themselves, and Rogen’s quest to take in the serial flasher in the face of adversity is so overblown that it exemplifies the stereotype and view we carry of Mall Security. But, unfortunately, as worth while as the experience is compared to Kevin James’ recent “Paul Blart,” it won’t appeal to a very broad audience, and will leave movie goers like me asking “can’t we make a funny film like this without including all the sex, language and violence?” But I’m sure huge fans of Seth Rogen, and even Rogen himself would say “nope.” {Sigh}

  • Vulgar/Profane language: Extreme
  • Sex/Nudity: Extreme
  • Violence: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Neutral
Neutral—Seth Rogen is RONNIE BARNHARDT. The name is… catchy. Like Ron Burgundy. I knew going into the movie that at times, it’d be disgusting, nay reprehensible in most every possible angle. It’s a SETH ROGEN movie. I needn’t say more.

Having said that, there are a few redeeming qualities. First, the originality. How often do you see irreverency crossed with randomness dot producted with the lewd, then tensored with a smidge of slapstick? In a mall no less. Kinda innovative. Now, that’s not to say Rogen’s latest romp is 100% new. It relies on many conventional plot gimmicks, ya know, the things that make a story click. E.g. introducing a minor, scarcely reoccurring character for the sole sake of wrapping up ALL loose ends at the end (and dishing out ribald humor) is a bit predictable. Still, I think there’s some kernel of freshness to this flick. I’m sure Paul Blart is similar in some respects—zealous mall cops after all—but the disparity in the MPAA ratings makes me think Observe and Report retains some modicum of individuality. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Keenum, age 22 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—“Observe and Report” picks a very heavy topic. It is about a bipolar man with delusions of grandeur who is also a womanizer who has pride issues and is racist and abuses his authority as a mall security guard. Things sour awfully quickly, as you can guess. Sounds like the basis for the next shameless Oscar-baiting film, right? Wrong. It’s a black comedy and farce made in the indie vein, but securing a mainstream release because Seth Rogen stars.

Let me tell you, you will never seen another mainstream comedy quite like this. It deals with all the topics listed above, and quite honestly, too. Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen’s character) is trying to chase and capture a pervert who’s been harassing mall customers so that he can gain some glory for himself. When a detective comes in and tries to solve things, Ronnie get mad and tries to take control of the entire operation. He also tries to become a real police officer to prove he’s just as capable as the detective. But when you give your bipolar meds to a loose mall employee in an effort to get her pliant enough to sleep with, then go into the psychological exam after 12 meds-free hours, things don’t go too well. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
JM, age 19 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I did not finish this film for two reasons: it was extremely offensive (constant language and sexual jokes), and it wasn’t funny (boring, dead jokes, too much seemingly improvised lines.) Don’t see it, it’s terrible, and it’s just plain dumb. I could go on and on about how dreadfully dead I felt while watching the amount, I did--but I’m afraid if I did, my comment would become just as boring as the film. DON’T SEE THIS MOVIE!!!…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1½
Ben Badger, age 18 (USA)