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Written and Directed by Jody Hill
Starring: Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Michael Pena and Ray Liotta

Nell: You shouldn’t give up on your dreams no matter how many people laugh at you.

It isn’t often that this happens but this movie actually dares me to do my job. Well, I have observed and I am here to report that the actual act of observing Seth Rogen’s latest starring vehicle, OBSERVE AND REPORT, is an experience I would not recommend to many, if any. Under the mostly absent direction of Jody Hill (who, it is necessary to note, is a man, in case the name caused any confusion), this hapless comedy goes from mildly amusing and intriguingly edgy to suddenly misogynist and offensive half way through and finishes in completely ludicrous and entirely unfunny frustration. Having been inundated with lovable losers in most recent comedies, Hill makes sure there is nothing redeeming about any of these sad sacks and subsequently, absolutely nothing redeeming about his film. And all this time, I thought comedies were supposed to make you feel good.

Like I said, OBSERVE AND REPORT starts out funny enough. Rogen is Ronnie Barnhardt, head of mall security at the Forest Ridge Mall. For most people, mall security is a joke – just ask Paul Blart. For Ronnie though, heading mall security is one small step below being a real police officer. He is important; he matters more than most and this is the promising premise that Hill presents but eventually puts aside. Just like the tagline of the film says, right now, the world needs a hero, and Ronnie wants to be that hero. Albeit only four letters, hero is a big word that everyone strives to be these days. In America, if you don’t matter to many, than you don’t matter to anyone and Ronnie wants his day in the sun just like everybody else out there. The problem is that not everyone is meant to shine and OBSERVE AND REPORT glorifies all misguided attempts to do so.

All of this would be funny enough, insightful even, if it weren’t pieced together so sloppily or told so ridiculously. Ronnie feels his whole life moving on an upward tick and decides that this would be the perfect time to come off his bipolar disorder medication. As Ronnie unhinges, so does the film. Before you know it, Ronnie is in the middle of what is, save for one supposedly justifying line of dialogue, essentially date rape with the love/lust of his life, Brandi (the grossly underused, Anna Faris). You try to look past it but then he goes off and does a ton of drugs, so much so in one day that I would think he would have been hospitalized. Instead of overdosing though, he beats the living crap out of a bunch of teenage skateboarders. Literally, he breaks their boards over their heads in plain daylight. I’m sure some of them probably died in the hospital but consequences do not exist in Hill’s mind. Stupidity exists and he brings its plainness to life quite vividly but he makes no effort to show where it can lead.

It’s not that Hill has any responsibility to tell it like it really is in a mall cop comedy but it is impossible to look past morally reprehensible filmmaking, especially when it isn’t the least bit funny. The laughs in the screening I attended pretty much dissipated after the first act, leaving the few of us present to sit in silence and awe for a painfully long time. Having made a minor impression with his first feature, THE FOOT FIST WAY, I fear that Hill may fall prey to the same fate as Ronnie Bernhardt. If this is the direction his films will take, then it seems to me that Hill will soon be deluded to think he is actually talented. If there is one thing that OBSERVE AND REPORT taught me though, it’s that no matter how dumb or how useless or how completely off the mark you are with your own self-image, all you need to do is own it and everything will work out just fine.

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