15 Apr 2009
Seth Rogen and director Jody Hill’s latest, Observe and Report, may not be Taxi Driver for a new generation per se, but the fact the comparison exists at all is nothing to laugh at. And while the movie is guaranteed to polarize audiences – either you “get it,” or you hate it – one thing’s for sure: you’ll be talking about it after.
Seth Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, the bipolar head of security at the Forest Ridge Mall. When a flasher arrives on the scene, Ronnie takes it as the perfect opportunity to prove his worth – both to himself and to the makeup counter girl (played by Anna Faris) he’s got an unrequited crush on. But when Ronnie and his team aren’t quite up to the task, hotshot “real cop” Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) is called in to clean up the mess, and what follows is a turf war between Ronnie and the equally-competitive (yet slightly less insane) Harrison.
It seems most people lashing out at Observe and Report these days are primarily taking offense at the fact that the insanely popular Rogen is playing so aggressively against type as the unlikable Ronnie. But you know what? It’s called acting, get over it. The only person who should be genuinely upset at the mere fact Seth is playing such a convincing psychopath is his grandmother. That’s the whole point of the movie. If you want nice, go watch Kevin James do his Segway shtick instead (then again, judging by Paul Blart’s insanely high box office, you probably already have).
In truth, Rogen has much more in common with Scorsese’s seminal sociopath Travis Bickle than he does Blart, weight problems aside. And even if you don’t entirely buy the comparison, you’ve got to admit Observe and Report feels like a throwback in many ways. With a mean streak the likes of which mainstream audiences haven’t seen the ‘70s, it’s understandable why some are so noticeably (and vocally) squeamish. But in an era where studio movies have to slavishly follow formula in order to become a hit (see: Blart), it’s refreshing to see an otherwise mainstream movie can still be considered “shocking” today. And appreciate it or not, you’ve got to give Observe and Report credit for that.
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