Movies That Deserve More Love: Observe and Report (2009)

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“This guy f**kin’ did it.”

Movies That Deserve More Love! Movies That Deserve More Love!

Ahoy, Blarts! Aidan here.

Two mall cop movies were released in 2009. One was your typical Happy Madison abomination, and the other was an infinitely entertaining (and equally misunderstood) sucker-punch of comedic mastery.

Jody Hill’s Observe and Report.

What? Mastery? This turd?

Don’t pull out your nightsticks just yet, kiddos. Let me explain.

Alternative comedy isn’t always my thing – it’s hit and miss with me. I’m a longtime fanatic of critically-divisive stars like Tim & Eric, Neil Hamburger, and Zach Galifianakis, but sometimes the stuff that’s widely lauded *cough* The Big Lebowski *cough* just doesn’t hit my funny bone. Or my dramatic bone. No bones.

But every few years or so, I stumble across a quiet, underappreciated, dark little gem like this. I then proceed to bust a cinematic load all over the place.

Observe and ReportMake no mistake, my 2009 teenage self was pumped to see an R-rated Seth Rogen go balls-out as an abusive mall cop. I’m not sure which I was more jazzed about – busting a gut laughing at one of my favorite working comedians, or using my $7 to stick it to the pussified version of the same film that had been released that year – Happy Madison’s 2009 bowel movement, Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

Everything was in place for a comedy blockbuster. The worldwide reaction?

“Oh… okay… That wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t funny. What a bad movie.”

Observe and ReportObserve and Report opened to mixed reviews and floundered at the box-office just because it wasn’t what it was “supposed to be.” Audiences squirmed at the film’s imperfect characters, bluntly macabre sense of humor, and lack of hand-holding.

“The movie was supposed to be funny! It was weird.”

Weird.

Hah, no. Just no. Screw that.

I’m adamant in championing constant cinematic innovation, especially in modern Hollywood. And while Observe and Report doesn’t necessarily offer anything particularly experimental or groundbreaking, it’s an uncompromising, bloody breath of fresh air – and I’ll take that over Paul f**king Blart any day.

Observe and ReportI guess we should get to the plot, no?

Observe and Report follows bipolar mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) as he hunts down a ruthless flasher who has turned the Forest Ridge mall into his own personal peep show. When the flasher makes contact with the object of Ronnie’s affection, Brandi (played perfectly by Ms. Anna Faris), Ronnie pulls out all the stops to ensure justice has its day.

The movie clocks in at a lean eighty-six minutes and kills it in that time – it’s in and out quick, much like Ronnie in the film’s date rape scene (which riveted audiences everywhere). The film pulls no punches, and in a world of bullshit PG-13 Robocop remakes and family friendly Die Hard sequels, that’s something to be treasured.

I preached this in my Iron Man 2 article – don’t punish a quality film because it didn’t align with preconceived notions. Let the film into your soul and it could very well exceed those artificial expectations in an entirely different way.

Observe and ReportDelving in a bit further, I guess I’d say my main gripe with audiences’ negative reaction to Observe and Report is rooted in movie branding. I try to avoid this topic as much as possible in favor of just focusing on the film itself (the only thing that matters), but in situations like Observe and Report‘s, it becomes an unavoidable issue.

People hated the film simply because it wasn’t what they were expecting. It’s fine to be caught off guard by a film – hell, I welcome it – but to immediately crack open the Hater-ade when the movie takes a turn you weren’t expecting? Come on, let’s be educated moviegoers here. A plot synopsis of The Graduate could easily make it sound like a flighty romantic comedy, but can you honestly tell me you hate it because it instead ended up being a multilayered examination of lust, ambition, and listlessness?

And with comedies like Jack and Jill, A Haunted House, and The Master of Disguise in existence, are we really going to give a movie shit that paints its dark black outside the lines?

It ain’t Grown Ups 2. It’s not Jack and Jill. But it’s unique, and that’s what us cinephiles clamor for year after year.

Release bullshit expectations brought on by studio marketing and go a little easier on Observe and Report with a fresh pair of eyes. It’s a comedic, modern-day spin on Taxi Driver. Reward it for the balls it took to make this thing.

See you next week with another installment of Movies That Deserve More Love!

Until then…. “Please take the dick off your face.”

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About the Author

Aidan Green
is a current Radio-Television-Film major at the University of Texas at Austin and a freelance screenwriter, filmmaker, editor, and graphic designer. He has written, directed, and collaborated on several award-winning short films and is a passionate cinephile, idolizing the likes of David Fincher and Tommy Wiseau.
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