Sunday, June 13, 2010

Observe and Report

This was an unusual film. It had the slightly unfortunate position of coming out around the same time as Paul Blart: Mall Cop, and they share a similar premise on the surface, but from what I know about that film, there's really almost nothing in common. The movie is surprisingly dark, much more of a black comedy than they really advertised. It's less about Seth Rogen hitting on Anna Faris and pursuing a flasher, and more a story of a bipolar man with serious delusions of grandeur trying to make himself into something. I don't want to overplay this side of it, because first things first it is a comedy, but I was fairly impressed with Rogen's performance, and there were some fairly disturbing (if still funny) moments when you see more into the crazy things he actually thinks about himself and his abilities.

Both the funniest and most tragic thing about his aspirations of being a real cop if it weren't for his medical issues is that he would actually be pretty good at it. A lot of the movie is fairly mundane, but there are a few scenes that get violent and are actually pretty effective as action and show an unexpected degree of skill with weaponry in Rogen's character. I don't want to spoil what actually happens, but they're some of the most memorable scenes from last year. Jody Hill seems as much concerned with shocking the audience as making them laugh, but not in a gross-out way, and it's an approach that mostly works for me.

There's some pretty funny stuff with Rogen and his fellow mall security guys, and his antagonistic relationship with Aziz Ansari is terrific. Not every scene really meets its potential, though. His confrontation with Patton Oswalt's asshole food court restaurant manager could have gone farther, and the sidekick character is definitely a situation where he was probably funnier on paper. It's not an outstanding movie, but it does a lot to stick out from the crowd, especially the climax, which I'd rather not spoil but is one of the best scenes I've seen in ages. It really has to be seen to be believed. I actually thought the ending was a bit too upbeat for the story, but a lot about the film is going to stick with me for a while.

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