Observe and Report

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Observe and Report
A head photo of man dressed as a police officer, wearing large dark glasses.
Promotional film poster
Directed by Jody Hill
Produced by Donald De Line
Written by Jody Hill
Starring
Music by Joseph Stephens
Cinematography Tim Orr
Edited by Zene Baker
Production
  company
De Line Pictures
Legendary Pictures
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s)
  • April 10, 2009 (2009-04-10)
Running time 86 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $18,000,000
Box office $26,973,554[1]

Observe and Report is a 2009 American dark comedy film written and directed by Jody Hill, starring Seth Rogen, Anna Faris and Ray Liotta.[2]

Plot[edit]

An anonymous flasher exposes himself to shoppers in the Forest Ridge Mall parking lot. The head of mall security, Ronald "Ronnie" Barnhardt (Seth Rogen), makes it his mission to apprehend the offender. He is assisted by Charles (Jesse Plemons) and Dennis (Michael Peña), and the Yuen twins (John Yuan and Matthew Yuan), in his efforts.

Ronnie's dream girl, Brandi (Anna Faris) who works a mall make-up counter, is flashed the next day, becoming distraught over the situation. Ronnie tries to comfort her until a police officer, Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta), arrives and takes over Ronnie's palliative role. Ronnie feels threatened by this and is upset that his boss allowed an outsider to infringe on his search for the offender.

The criminal activity at the mall continues, as a masked person is seen robbing a shoe store, causing property damage. Detective Harrison is once again called in to investigate, his efforts hindered by Ronnie, who thinks that an Arab shopkeeper (Aziz Ansari) in the mall is the thief, based on the fact that he is an Arab. In response, Harrison curses out Ronnie during a meeting with Ronnie's superior, and Ronnie decides to take steps to become a real police officer.

As part of his preparations, Ronnie decides to ride along with Detective Harrison. Harrison, fed up with Ronnie, tricks him into walking into the most dangerous part of town, and drives off. Ronnie then confronts and subsequently subdues several drug dealers, victoriously returning to the police station with a dealer's son and thanking the detective for the opportunity to prove himself. Emboldened, Ronnie arranges a date with Brandi. On their date, Brandi consumes a large quantity of alcohol as well as several tablets of clonazepam which she took from Ronnie. Ronnie takes her home and has intercourse with her while she is semi-conscious.

Ronnie fails the psychological examination for the police officer job. Nell (Collette Wolfe), a friendly food court worker, explains to him that her boss Roger (Patton Oswalt) and another female employee make fun of Nell for having her leg in a cast, leading Ronnie to threaten the two after giving Roger a beating. Depressed, he is persuaded by Dennis to spend the day doing a wide variety of drugs and assaulting skateboarding teenagers. At the end of the day, Ronnie finds out that Dennis was the shoe thief, and that he has been stealing from the mall for some time. Ronnie is stunned and, after a brief argument, is knocked unconscious from behind by Dennis, who then flees to Mexico.

Ronnie decides to go "undercover" in order to catch the flasher. At night he sees Harrison having sex with Brandi in his cruiser, and he confronts her in front of onlookers at the mall the next day, blowing his cover and damaging mall property in the process. Ronnie refuses to leave the mall and police are called in. Ronnie fights off many officers before losing a fist fight with Harrison.

After one night in jail, and once his wounds heal, Ronnie returns to the mall, although no longer a security guard. He is approached by Nell back on both legs, and she kisses him to console him. Interrupting their romantic moment, the flasher exposes himself to Nell and Ronnie and runs off, exposing himself to many other mall patrons. Ronnie, pursuing the flasher in a slow-motion sequence that includes him punching the Arab clerk in the face, retrieves a gun and shoots the flasher as he approaches Brandi. Though she thanks him, Ronnie rejects and humiliates her for betraying him.

Refusing the flasher an ambulance, Ronnie takes him to the police station, impressing and insulting the officers who had previously ridiculed him, including Harrison. A victorious Ronnie is then interviewed with the other security guards and he is accompanied by Nell, who is now his girlfriend, and he returns to his job as the head of mall security.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was shot on location in the largely abandoned Winrock Shopping Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.[3] Filming began around May 2008 and took place in Wilmington, NC.

At the request of the studio, during the test screening stage the filmmakers created a version of the film that was more toned down, but that was scrapped as the test screening scores for the new version were lower than the original.[4]

Writing[edit]

Written and directed by Jody Hill. The megalomaniac, manic-depressive security guard Ronnie has been compared to Travis Bickle in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver; Hill has mentioned it and also Scorsese's The King of Comedy as significant influences.[5][6]

Similarity to Paul Blart: Mall Cop[edit]

The film has drawn some attention for having a similar premise and protagonist to the 2009 family comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Seth Rogen, in an interview with GQ, noted his awareness of a similar movie being made:

We knew the whole time, actually. And we're friends with those guys, so we would literally send each other pictures of the wardrobe, just to make sure we weren't stepping on each other's toes. They're totally different movies.[7]

In comparing the two, Observe and Report was dubbed by some reviewers as "the dark mall cop movie".[8][9][10]

Reception[edit]

Anna Faris and Seth Rogen fielding questions at the film's premiere at the 2009 South by Southwest Festival

Critical response[edit]

Critical reaction has been mixed. On Rotten Tomatoes, Observe and Report has an overall approval rating from critics of 51% with an average score of 5.5/10 out of 201 reviews.[11] On Metacritic, the film received an average score of 54/100, based on 34 reviews.[12] Based on 11 reviews, Yahoo! Movies critics gave the film a B-.[13]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film a rating of three out of four stars, saying, "Hill is fearless at pushing hot buttons: date rape, shooting up and worse," and "Rogen is nutso hilarious, nailing every note of mirth and malice."[14] Conversely, Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian awarded the movie one star out of five and disparaged Rogen's performance, writing "for Seth Rogen fans like me, this charmless, heavy-handed and cynical comedy is an uncomfortable experience."[15] Paul Byrnes wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald, "Much of the movie is just plain vicious. At best, it's sad and grotesque, rather than hilarious,"[16] while Manohla Dargis of The New York Times stated "if you thought Abu Ghraib was a laugh riot you might love Observe and Report." She continued, "It’s far better and certainly easier... to sit back and relax and enjoy the show. That, after all, is precisely what Hollywood banks on each time it manufactures a new entertainment for a public that — as the stupid, violent characters who hold up a mirror to that public indicate — it views with contempt."[17]

The sex scene between Rogen and Faris attracted criticism from various groups.[18] Referring to the moment where Ronnie Barnhardt is having sex with Faris' intoxicated character, Rogen said in an interview that "then she says, like, the one thing that makes it all okay," to which Antonia Zerbisias responded, arguing that "retroactive consent is not consent" and "there's no okay in rape".[19] Peter Travers argued in Rolling Stone that while the scene does constitute date rape, "the bipolar Ronnie is acting totally in character," and that "the movie isn't condoning Ronnie's actions", just dishing out the kind of laughs "that stick in your throat."[20]

During an interview on The Howard Stern Show, Rogen stated he was disappointed by the film's overall reception but proud that "the only two people who liked it" were Stern and David Letterman.[21]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $11,140,000 to open in fourth place in its first weekend of release, behind Hannah Montana: The Movie, Fast & Furious, and Monsters vs. Aliens (also featuring Seth Rogen). It averaged $4,085, playing in 2,727 theaters. To date it is the second lowest-grossing film (before Take this Waltz) in which Seth Rogen plays a leading role, grossing $26,973,554 as of May 31, 2009.[22]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 22, 2009.

Soundtrack[edit]

Observe and Report: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released April 7, 2009
Genre Soundtrack
Label New Line Records

Observe and Report: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on April 7, 2009 by New Line Records.

  1. "When I Paint My Masterpiece" by The Band – 4:18
  2. "The Man" by Patto – 6:07
  3. "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues" by McLusky – 1:51
  4. "Sittin' Back Easy" by Patto – 3:35
  5. "Brain" by The Action – 2:59
  6. "Over Under Sideways Down" by The Yardbirds – 2:22
  7. "Dwarves Must Die" by Dwarves – 1:23
  8. "Help Is on Its Way" by Little River Band – 4:00
  9. "Where Is My Mind?" by City Wolf – 4:27
  10. "Babyteeth" by Pyramid – 4:10
  11. "Observe and Report Score Suite" by Joseph Stephens – 4:04
  12. "Super Freek (Remix)" by Amanda Blank, Nina Cream, and Aaron LaCrate – 2:26

The Queen songs "It's Late" and "The Hero" are featured in the film but not included on the soundtrack.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for August 19-21, 2011". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  2. ^ "Observe and Report". Movies.com. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  3. ^ [1] Observe and Report Review 18 Mar 2009. Retrieved 1 Apr 2009.
  4. ^ Amy Longsdorf (2009-04-05). "See-sawing between naughty and nice". Toronto Star. 
  5. ^ Hill, Logan (2009-04-09). "Observe and Report Director Jody Hill on Making People Feel Weird - Vulture". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  6. ^ Rabin, Nathan (2009-04-10). "Jody Hill | Film | Interview". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  7. ^ GQ Blog. Seth Rogen and Jody Hill talk 'Observe and Report' 13 Mar 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2009
  8. ^ Campbell, Christopher. Observe and Report = The Dark Mall Cop. Today in Film Bloggery 02/09/09, Splout Blog, 9 Feb 2009. Retrieved 14 Mar 2009.
  9. ^ Legel, Laremy. Five Reasons Seth Rogen's Observe and Report Will Own Paul Blart. Film.com, 2 Feb 2009. Retrieved 14 Mar 2009.
  10. ^ Ponto, Arya. "Observe and Report"—No, It's Not Another "Paul Blart" Just Press Play 7 Feb 2009. Retrieved 14 Mar 2009.
  11. ^ "Observe and Report Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2009-11-24. 
  12. ^ "Observe and Report (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  13. ^ "Observe and Report (2009)- Yahoo! Movies". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 2009-04-11. 
  14. ^ "Observe and Report: Review". Rolling Stones. Retrieved 2010-01-29.  - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
  15. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (April 24, 2009). "Film Review: Observe and Report". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-29.  - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
  16. ^ "Film Reviews - Observe & Report". The Sydney Morning Herald. May 14, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  17. ^ Dargis, Manohla (April 10, 2009). "Movie Reviews - Observe & Report - Mall Crisis? Call security. Then again, maybe not". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  18. ^ Fisher, luchina (April 14, 2009). "Observe and Report's' Date Rape Scene: Funny or Offensive?". abcnews. Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  19. ^ Antonia, Zerbisias (April 14, 2009). "If no means no, is yes `yes'?". Thestar.com (Toronto: John Cruickshank). Retrieved May 3, 2009. 
  20. ^ Travers, Peter (April 14, 2009). "Controversy: Is the Seth Rogen Sex Scene in 'Observe and Report' Date Rape or Harmless Fun?". Rolling Stone
  21. ^ "Bad porn stars - The Howard Stern Show". Howardstern.com. 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  22. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for April 10–12, 2009". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 

External links[edit]