One of the things that I really don’t like is taboos. They represent the manipulative, controlling, and tribal aspects of our existence. And, in my opinion, they are holding us back as a society and as a species. If you’re wondering why I’m talking about taboos and why this intro was necessary, please do read on. I will explain everything. So, Observe and Report is a black comedy about a mall cop who desperately wants to become a real cop. Starring Seth Rogen and Ray Liotta, this is a movie that explores a lot of different issues.
A fair share of the viewers found it repulsive, and offensive and other -ives, refusing to look at things from another perspective. And this is what Observe and Report does, it approaches some very difficult subjects like police brutality, mental illness, and others with a very dark sense of humor. This was supposed to disarm the viewer and open it to new ideas. I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole that is the tribal system of values but I feel compelled to. Our mall cop Ronnie is looking for respect, authority, and ultimately power.
He wants to position himself high in the social structure and the easiest way to do that is to become a cop. He wants to be a hero. A hero in this incredibly complex world of ours. His simplistic view of the world exposes truths we might otherwise overlook. So, you can actually look at Observe and Report as a character study and a subversive examination of our society. Add to this a lot of black humor and a tight script and you got yourself an excellent movie.
You might even go so far as to say that this is some kind of a twisted hero’s journey. The pursuit of the American Dream, if you will. And Jody Hill’s (director and writer) decision to keep things in the same unflinching tone ’till the end was admirable.
Ronald Ronnie Barnhardt is a mall cop on a mission. A ruthless flasher is stalking the mall, exposing his nude body to unsuspecting shoppers constantly. And that’s not all. The flasher actually flashed the girl of Ronnie’s dreams, Brandi. So, he hooks up with Detective Harrison and two of them strike up an unlikely friendship. A friendship that’s soon going to escalate.
I like how the annoying mall guard (Seth Rogen) and very cocky and confident police detective (Ray Liotta) are making their contrasting relationship work. Observe and Report has a sad note to it, but it still manages to be funny. The script is full of fully fleshed-out stereotypical characters (dumb blond, apprentice cop, dumb twins, good girl behind the counter, alcoholic mother) all interacting in a realistic way. You can see that most of these people remained in their teenage mindset, just like most of the population.
Observe and Report is an infinitely better movie than Paul Blart: Mall Cop, a bland mainstream comedy you should watch just to see how bad it is. And how good and subversive Observe and Report is. So, it was only logical that we get a sequel for Paul Blart and not this fucking movie. Finally, I have something I want to add to this review and that’s the story of a very real man who made a very real difference in the real world. I’m talking about Richard Jewell, a movie about a chubby guy who also wanted to be cop…
Director: Jody Hill
Writer: Jody Hill
Cast: Seth Rogen, Ray Liotta, Michael Peña, Anna Faris, Dan Bakkedahl, Jesse Plemons
Fun Facts: Warner Brothers did not like the dark themes explored in Observe and Report and demanded that the final cut must be lighter and more approachable. However, when the test audiences disliked this cut and loved the original one, they decided to drop their demands.