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
Music byJoseph Stephens
CinematographyTim Orr
Edited byZene Baker
De Line Pictures
Legendary Pictures
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • April 10, 2009 (2009-04-10)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
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.

The film was released on April 10, 2009 and grossed $27 million.


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, grandiose delusions or megalomania, paranoia, and bigoted and delusional thinking. He is assisted by Charles, Dennis, and the Yuen twins (John and Matthew Yuan), in his efforts.

The day after, Ronnie's dream girl, Brandi (Faris), who works at the mall make-up counter, encounters the flasher as soon as she stops her vehicle in the mall's parking lot, shocking her. Then Ronnie tries to comfort her until Detective Harrison, a cop, arrives and takes over Ronnie's palliative role. Ronnie gets upset and agitated that his manager allowed an outsider to take over his search for the suspect.

The criminal activity at the mall continues, as a masked person robs a shoe store, causing property damage. Detective Harrison is once again called in to investigate, his efforts which Ronnie decides to get into, who believes that Saddamn, an Arab shopkeeper in the mall is the thief, based on the fact that he is an Arab. Ronnie curses Saddamn out, and Harrison profanely excoriates Ronnie for this during a meeting with Ronnie's superior, and in response, Ronnie decides to take steps to become a 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 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 thinking that Ronnie takes them recreationally, she asks him for the bottle. She consumes multiple tablets herself while drinking. Ronnie takes her home and they have sex while she is apparently semi-conscious, and at one point, when he stops mid-coitus, she says groggily, "Why are you stopping, motherfucker?", prompting him to continue.

Ronnie passes the background check and physical examination for the police officer job, but fails the psychological examination. Nell, a friendly food court worker, explains to him that her boss, Roger, and Trina, another female employee, make fun of Nell 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 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 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, and he confronts her in front of onlookers at the mall the next day, blowing his cover and inadvertently destroying a display case. When the police are summoned, Ronnie fights them and Harrison. Ronnie single handily defeats the regular officers, but he loses against Harrison and is arrested.

After a night in jail, Ronnie's mom gives him a postcard from Dennis in Mexico. Dennis admits that he respects Ronnie for caring so much. The next day, Ronnie returns to the mall, fired from his job. Despondent, he sits at a food court table, where Nell, whose cast has been removed, and is sporting a more flattering hairdo, brings him a complimentary cup of coffee. As a vulnerable Ronnie expresses his sadness over his situation, Nell kisses 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 Saddamn in the face, retrieves a gun and shoots the flasher in the shoulder as he charges toward Brandi. Refusing the flasher an ambulance, Ronnie brings the flasher to his feet to take him to the police station, and as he does so, his boss, Mark rehires him. Though Brandi compliments Ronnie on a job well done, Ronnie rejects her compliment and humiliates her publicly for betraying him. Ronnie drops the flasher off at the police station, and boasts to Harrison of his feat, saying that he does not need a badge or gun to know who he is. Ronnie is then interviewed by the local news with Nell and his fellow security guards by his side.



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]


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]

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


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 50%, based on 202 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. 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."[11] On Metacritic, the film received a score of 54 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[12]

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."[13] 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."[14] 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,"[15] 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."[16]

The sex scene between Rogen and Faris attracted criticism from various groups.[17] 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".[18] 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."[19]

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.[20]

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). To date it is the lowest-grossing mainstream film of Rogen's starring career, and second lowest-grossing film overall before Take this Waltz, grossing a total of $27 million.[21]

Home media[edit]

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


Observe and Report: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Observe and Report OST Album Cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
ReleasedApril 7, 2009
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.


  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. ^ 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 2014-09-09.
  12. ^ "Observe and Report (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2009-04-12.
  13. ^ "Observe and Report: Review". Rolling Stones. Retrieved 2010-01-29. - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
  14. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (April 24, 2009). "Film Review: Observe and Report". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-29. - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
  15. ^ "Film Reviews - Observe & Report". The Sydney Morning Herald. May 14, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Fisher, Luchina (April 14, 2009). "Observe and Report's' Date Rape Scene: Funny or Offensive?". abcnews. Retrieved May 3, 2009.
  18. ^ Antonia, Zerbisias (April 14, 2009). "If no means no, is yes `yes'?". Thestar.com. Toronto: John Cruickshank. Retrieved May 3, 2009.
  19. ^ Travers, Peter (April 14, 2009). "Controversy: Is the Seth Rogen Sex Scene in 'Observe and Report' Date Rape or Harmless Fun?". Rolling Stone
  20. ^ "Bad porn stars - The Howard Stern Show". Howardstern.com. 2009-07-30. Retrieved 2011-08-27.
  21. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for April 10–12, 2009". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-04-12.

External links[edit]