Ever since his co-starring role in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, Seth Rogan has been amusing the audience with his antics. Whether he is the deadbeat, the pothead or the pornographer, he makes people laugh. “Observe and Report” carries its weight in all of these categories. Though the timing may not be perfect, released on the heels of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”, this movie has its own unique blend of rent-a-cop humor.
Seth Rogan plays Ronnie Barnhardt, head of mall security. Barnhardt still lives with his alcoholic mother, which explains his underdog status. Barnhardt has an obsession with firearms as he and his mall security cohorts — who spend their off time at the firing range will all manner of weaponry — aren’t allowed to have guns on the job.
The movie begins with a man in a trench coat skirmishing through the mall parking lot exposing himself to several crowds of women, while spouting vulgarities not fit for print, but fit for convulsive laughter. After making threats to the pervert on the evening news, Barnhardt decides to one-up the police who have put a detective on the case. Ray Liotta of “Goodfellas,” plays the detective in charge of finding the flasher.
Once the pervert has exposed himself to the mall’s cosmetics specialist, Brandi (UW alum Anna Faris, of “Scary Movie”), Barnhardt decides to impress her by catching the deviant before the police do. In doing this he applies to the police academy to see if he has what it takes to catch a perpetrator. This leads to several, almost kung fu-esque street fighting scenes — a first for Rogan — and a preview of attractions to come once “The Green Hornet” is released next year, also starring Rogan in the lead.
“Observe and Report” runs in the same vein as other Rogan movies, like “Knocked Up” and “Pineapple Express”. This one has a fair share of situational comedy and raunchy bits, but much less drug humor. “Observe and Report” draws most of its comedy from shock value, much like that of “Tropic Thunder”. Throughout the whole movie, there were moments that, in any other context, would seem heinous or in bad taste, but I found myself laughing every time.
Although it starts out slow, the movie picks up its darkly comedic momentum. “Observe and Report” runs 86 minutes, is rated R and gets a solid 3 ½ out of five.