“I do it, so other people can sleep well at night, meanwhile, I’m up all night fighting demons, just screaming bloody murder, waking up with nosebleeds, night terrors, finding myself a mile from home with bloody feet and a gun in my hand…”
This early effort form East Bound and Down collaborator Jody Hill was not well received on its release by critics and audiences, despite featuring a headlining role from the already established heir apparent of comedy Seth Rogen.
Perhaps it was partially hindered by unfair comparisons to the similarly themed but drastically different Paul Blart: Mall Cop; a much more family friendly, bumbling fool style, piece of crap comedy. Yet Observe and Report couldn’t be more different, sitting comfortably inside the familiar adult stoner comedy usually indulged in by Rogen and co.
Here Rogen plays a slight derivative of his usual deluded loser looking to make something of himself, this time in the guise of a surly mall security guard.
Laughs are subdued in the first 40 minutes, and one or two misguided but heavily protracted gags will even leave you squirming in awkwardness. Things don’t really get going until Rogen suffers the inevitable shattering of his delusional self image, and flies head first into a nervous break down of chaos.
All of the usual formulas for a screen play typical of this brand of comedy are ticked off on the check list: the honest but overlooked love interest, the bully nemesis, the wacky ethnic characters (a whole plethora here), the drugs binge, the Danny McBride/Will Ferrell cameo as an over the top inflated ego. Given that the same bunch of writers and actors have produced several virtually identical but overall better alternatives, there may seem little point in bothering.
But beyond these obviously recycled ideas there are a few signs that the crew are simply experimenting with some new ideas, even if it means making the odd misstep here and there. Several dramatic events come as a complete surprise, and a few decent sequences provide belly laughs in the final half. If nothing else some inspired lines of a dark comedy genius make it more than worth the while all by themselves.
Observe and Report will never be considered one of Rogen’s better offerings; in fact it is doomed to obscurity given the identikit alternatives pumped out in rapid succession by him and his comedy collective. Pineapple Express, Knocked Up et al are all superior efforts and you would be forgiven for not wanting to see similar gags just repeated in a different setting. But there are a handful of stand out moments which are more than worthy and could easily be ripped off next time you are down the pub.
6.5 out of 1o