Rated R for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence, 86 minutes
Please, don't "Observe" this unfunny, profane "Report"
If "Observe and Report" seems familiar, you're not far off the mark. It's like a raunchier, far dirtier, and less funny version of this year's "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" combined with Sandler's "The Waterboy" and both of those films were far from masterpieces. It also reveals that Seth Rogan could be a little overexposed, overrated and typecast as the schluby sarcastic underachiever. "Observe and Report" is one of the most profane, abrasive and profoundly stupid and excessively mean comedies I've seen in a long time. It's peppered with a few enjoyably funny moments, in between the excessive "f's" and "you's," if you get my drift.
At Forest Ridge Mall, head of security Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogan) patrols his jurisdiction with an iron hand, combating skateboarders, shoplifters and the occasional unruly customer while dreaming of the day when he can become a real cop. His delusions of grandeur are put to the test when the mall is struck by a flasher.
Ronnie seizes the opportunity to showcase his underappreciated law enforcement skills, hoping this will enable him to become an actual cop and win his dream girl Brandi (Anna Faris), a hot, snobby make-up counter clerk. Meanwhile, his pursuit of glory engages a battle with the equally competitive police Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) and Ronnie must solve the crime before the real cops do.
"Observe and Report" is a low-brow, derivative and profane comedy that hits below the level of mediocrity in terms of humor. Director and writer Jody Hill, who made the extremely funny "The Foot Fist Way" a few years ago, makes an egregious mistake of thinking that inserting all those four letter words will make a funny comedy. It doesn't. At least he has Rogan in the title role, a gifted, funny guy on his own, though his talents are lost here amidst the profanity, and it also shows how annoyingly talky he can be.
As for the rest of "Report" - it's story is both flat and predictable, it's characters one-dimensional, and it's tone takes a startling turn toward the violent, dark and just plain icky and mean (beating kids up, snorting cocaine and seeing every last inch of a pale flasher - just not that funny) in its last act.
What funny moments there are in "Observe and Report" come from selected members of the supporting cast. Character actress Celia Weston steals moments as Ronnie's drunk mother (she tries in vain to cheer him up), and from dramatic actor Michael Pena, showing his comic chops by channeling his inner John Leguizamo-lisp as one of Ronnie's security-guard sidekicks. Not as good: talented actors Liotta and Faris, who are altogether wasted in the movie, typecasting them both as a dirty cop and a ditzy slut and giving them little to do but either beat up people or throw up on them.
"Observe and Report" is a terrible disappointment given the talent, not to mention an excessively profane one (this is definitely not one for the kiddoes), but it will most likely be a hit anyway. Rogan, director and writer Hill, Liotta and Faris can all do much better than this. Next time try it with a real script, real characters, and without so many "f's" and "you's."