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 byJody Hill
Produced byDonald De Line
Written byJody Hill
Starring
Music byJoseph Stephens
CinematographyTim Orr
Edited byZene Baker
Production
company
De Line Pictures
Legendary Pictures
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • April 10, 2009 (2009-04-10)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$18 million[1]
Box office$27 million[1]

Observe and Report is a 2009 American black comedy film written and directed by Jody Hill, starring Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, and Ray Liotta.[2] The plot follows a mentally unstable vigilante mall cop who wants to join the police academy and his pursuit of a flasher tormenting female visitors to the mall where he works. The film was released on April 10, 2009 and grossed $27 million.

Plot[edit]

An anonymous flasher exposes himself to shoppers in the Forest Ridge Mall parking lot. The head of mall security, Ronald "Ronnie" Barnhardt (Rogen), makes it his mission to apprehend the offender. However, while Ronnie is ostensibly well-intentioned and valiant in his own mind, in reality he appears to be an emotionally unstable individual with vigilante tendencies, apparently experiencing bipolar disorder and displaying violent ideation, among other problems.

The criminal activity at the mall continues as the flasher exposes himself to make-up counter worker Brandi (Faris) and a masked robber causes property damage at a shoe store. In both instances, Detective Harrison, a police detective, arrives to investigate. The two dislike each other, as Ronnie believes Harrison is taking over his proper role as investigator and Harrison believes that Ronnie is disrupting the investigation.

Ronnie decides to take steps to become a police officer. As part of his preparations, Ronnie decides to ride along with Detective Harrison. Harrison tricks him into walking into the most dangerous part of town and drives off. Ronnie then confronts and subsequently assaults 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 sees Ronnie taking a prescription clonazepam and assumes that Ronnie takes them recreationally. She asks him to share and he gives her the entire bottle, believing that he doesn't need his prescription anymore. Ronnie takes her home and date rapes her while she is semi-conscious.

Ronnie passes the background check and physical examination for the police officer job, but fails the psychological examination. Nell, a friendly food court worker, tearfully shares that her boss and coworker employee tease her for having her leg in a cast. Ronnie then beats up Roger and warns him and Trina not to harass Nell again. Depressed, he is persuaded by fellow security officer Dennis (Peña) to spend the day doing a wide variety of drugs and assaulting skateboarding teenagers. At the end of the day, Dennis reveals that he has been stealing from the mall for some time. Ronnie insists this is wrong and, after a brief argument, Dennis knocks him unconscious and flees.

Ronnie decides to go undercover in order to catch the flasher, but when he catches Brandi having sex with Harrison in the parking lot, he confronts her in front of onlookers at the mall the next day, blowing his cover and destroying a display case. The police are summoned and Ronnie fights them and Harrison off until he is overpowered and arrested.

After some time, Ronnie's mom gives him a postcard from Dennis in Mexico, who admits that he respects Ronnie for caring so much. Ronnie returns to the mall, despondent that he no longer works security. He discovers that Nell's cast has been removed. She kisses him just before the flasher arrives and exposes himself to the food court. After a brief chase, Ronnie incapacitates the flasher by shooting him in the shoulder. Ronnie then brings the bleeding flasher to the police station, gloating that he has won by apprehending him. Ronnie is subsequently interviewed by the local news, having regained his job and begun dating Nell.

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.

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]

Observe and Report was 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]

The film has drawn some attention for having a plot revolving around a "mall cop" like the 2009 family comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Seth Rogen, in an interview with GQ, noted his awareness of another "mall cop" 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]

However in 2019 Rogen expressed anger at his discovery that Paul Blart: Mall Cop had "gotten the script and ripped us off, even though they're very different movies...One way or another I'm not thrilled with Paul Blart: Mall Cop in relation to how Observe and Report was received."[8]

In comparing the two, Observe and Report was dubbed by some reviewers as "the dark mall cop movie".[9][10][11]

Reception[edit]

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

Critical response[edit]

Observe and Report was met with mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 51%, based on 212 reviews, with an average rating of 5.49/10. The site's consensus reads: "Though it has a mean streak, and does not cater to all tastes, Observe and Report has gut-busting laughs and a fully committed Seth Rogen in irresistible form."[12] On Metacritic, the film received a score of 54 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[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 , "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 film drew criticism for its attempt at a comedic portrayal of date rape from a number of notable publications, including Vulture, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The New York Times.[18][19][20][21] On their date, Ronnie purchases Brandi copious amounts of alcohol at the restaurant and gives her a bottle of his prescription medication, clonazepam, a combination which leaves Brandi so incapacitated that she can neither stand on her own nor open her eyes. Despite the fact that Brandi is clearly inebriated and unfit to give consent, Ronnie takes advantage of her vulnerable state, kissing her as she vomits and engaging in intercourse with her as she lies motionless on the bed, stopping only to make sure she's still breathing. While Brandi does eventually awaken in the midst of Ronnie on top of her and asks him why he stopped, she does not urge him to continue and loses consciousness once more.

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.[22]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $11 million in its opening weekend (an average of $4,085 at 2,727 theaters), finishing in fourth place, behind Hannah Montana: The Movie, Fast & Furious, and Monsters vs. Aliens (also featuring Rogen). It ultimately grossed $27 million at the box office. To date, it is the third lowest-grossing film of Rogen's starring career, before Take this Waltz and The Interview.[23]

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
ReleasedApril 7, 2009
GenreSoundtrack
LabelNew 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. ^ a b "Observe and Report (2009)", Box Office Mojo, retrieved May 16, 2017
  2. ^ "Observe and Report". Movies.com. Retrieved 2011-08-27.
  3. ^ [1] Observe and Report Review 18 Mar 2009. Retrieved 1 Apr 2009.
  4. ^ Longsdorf, Amy (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. ^ Rogen, Seth. "Seth Rogen Breaks Down His Most Iconic Movies". Youtube. GQ. Text "GQ" ignored (help)
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Legel, Laremy. Five Reasons Seth Rogen's Observe and Report Will Own Paul Blart. Film.com, 2 Feb 2009. Retrieved 14 Mar 2009.
  11. ^ Ponto, Arya. "Observe and Report"—No, It's Not Another "Paul Blart" Just Press Play 7 Feb 2009. Retrieved 14 Mar 2009.
  12. ^ "Observe and Report Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2014-09-09.
  13. ^ "Observe and Report (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
  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. ^ Kois, Dan. "Does Seth Rogen Rape Anna Faris in Observe and Report?". www.vulture.com. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  19. ^ Byrnes, Reviewed by Paul (2009-05-14). "Observe And Report". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  20. ^ Fisher, Luchina (April 14, 2009). "Observe and Report's' Date Rape Scene: Funny or Offensive?". abcnews. Retrieved May 3, 2009.
  21. ^ Dargis, Manohla (2009-04-09). "Seth Rogen in a Security Crisis at the Mall". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-08.
  22. ^ "Bad porn stars - The Howard Stern Show". Howardstern.com. 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2011-08-27.
  23. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for April 10–12, 2009". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-04-12.

External links[edit]