A Positive Test-Screening Report On OBSERVE AND REPORT, From Seth Rogen, Anna Faris & The Writer-Director Of FOOT FIST WAY!!
I am – Hercules!!
Patton Oswalt Plays The Cinnebon Man in “Observe And Report,” the tale of a self-important mall cop from “Foot Fist Way” writer-director Jody Hill.
It opens April 10.
Well Hello Boys,
I had the good fortune of catching an early screening of Jody Hill's Observe and Report on December 18th at the Pacific Palisades Theater on 9201 Winnetka BLVD in Winnetka, CA. Though they said the same old jargon at the beginning about "don't judge it at this stage, no pictures, no reviews; the editing, music, and color correction aren't finished" - it appeared to be a pretty finished film. There were a couple songs here and there that were obviously temp score.
I'd like to do my best to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, I have a vast amount of respect for Jody Hill and his endeavors. The Foot Fist way was easily in my top ten of films I saw this year, and his obsession with finding obscure comedy among rural and everyday settings is something I love and can relate to. He's almost like a misfit, more broad version of The Coen Brothers, and that is most certainly a compliment.
I liked this movie a great deal but I think a lot of little edits and perhaps... PERHAPS... some reshoots could put it through the roof as a true cult classic. I realize my review is long but I've divided it by category as to not offend those with delicate sensibilities.
I'll spare you a plot outline because the IMDB synopsis does it plenty of justice. It's a fairly simple story about mall security guard, Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen), with a lack of direction and social awareness trying to get a grip on reality and make a man out of himself while nearly losing his mind in the process. The only people that respect him for the most part are fellow mall security guards who are even more pathetic than he is, his drunk mother, and a very sweet food court employee. The main "villain" is set up with a hilarious opener that's a long-take tracking shot through the mall parking lot. It starts the party off right and had me already doubled over laughing.
Overall it's pretty easy to follow although there are some weird moments where the logic doesn't match up. Also, for the most part the movie takes place in our everyday world so when Rogen runs amuck you can't help but ask yourself "wait, wouldn't he get in much bigger trouble for this?" That doesn't REAALLY matter because a lot of that shit is too funny to question the logic of. Some jokes could just be set up a little better. I really don't want to go into too much detail because I don't want to ruin everything. Let's just say it has a couple of "wait, what?" moments that could just be delivered a little more smoothly.
My big qualm is the movie needs a better build to Ronnie's downward spiral into the bipolar-disorder-worst-case-scenario that it becomes. I feel that would be a lot of funnier and much more surprising. From the get-go, Ronnie's very abrasive, profane, and extremely unstable. I've heard that Taxi Driver was used as sort of a model for this film, so like Taxi Driver (and other good examples of this would be The King of Comedy and even The Foot Fist Way) the first half should make the character more of a ticking time-bomb. Instead - to make the movie more accessible to Johnny Q. Moviegoer - he's automatically swearing insulting and nearly getting violent with people. So if there was a way to cut back some of the overt harshness in the first half of the film, it would be less overly aware of how dark it is. It's same problem I had with Bad Santa. In fact, the best cross-comparison I could give Observe and Report is that it is The Foot Fist Way meets Bad Santa. That's sort of the achilles heel of the movie: it wants to have its cake and it eat it too by being very broad, raucous, and accessible but also be equally obscure, dark, and character-driven at the same time. But seriously, these seem like things that could be cut back in the editing lab. Also, it just feels like it could be tighter in general so edits would really help that too.
What also really works is the sweetness of the movie, as it offsets the harshness and crudeness. This has obviously been a pretty big trend since the rise of Apatow, but Observe and Report is much darker and more strange than the likes of Knocked Up. If there was any way to inject a few more sweet scenes or even just moments, it might work to the films advantage.
SETH ROGEN: I'm still a lover of Seth Rogen and he's the perfect guy to play such an oblivious mall security guard. He gets the laughs and even gets some pretty great dramatic beats where we really feel for him. My only complaint is something I would say happens to a lot of talented comedians. Although they have much greater range, popular comedians get forced to hand out their go-to easy laughs. For example, Steve Carell is an extremely versatile and talented character actor who is funny because his delivery is so honest. In big comedies, Steve Carell screams a lot because that was funny in Anchorman. Jim Carrey is an uncompromising ball of energy who can go from morose to off-the-wall at a rate faster than Freddie Mercury can go from bass to tenor. In big comedies, Jim Carrey flails his limbs and says "red-bull" really fast. Finally, Seth Rogen is a guy we love, because he embodies the roles of the very real kind of guys who've entertained us in countless dive bars and midnight Big Lebowski screenings. His now go-to gimmick? He says "fuck" in all of its variations and at different volumes... a lot. This was the first movie where it kind of started to bug me - when they want the easy Seth Rogen laugh, just make him get angry and say fuck a lot. Shia's amount of "no-no-no-no"s are congruent to Seth Rogen's "fuck-fucking-motherfucker"s.
RAY LIOTTA: Ray Liotta plays a detective that we've seen him play a dozen times, and that's why it works. He's very believable so when you take one of those stock police roles he's had in the past and make him deal with a character like Ronnie, it's a very classic comic chemistry that this film manages to keep pretty fresh and funny.
ANNA FARIS: Anna Faris plays a vapid, blonde, JC Penney's-type makeup saleswoman that Seth Rogen is in love with. Again, we've seen her do this before, but the writing works more to her advantage. It's sort of like how Sean William Scott reprised the same part of the party-douche in Role Models that he always plays, but it was a helluvalot funnier because it was just written better.
MICHAEL PENA: Usually known for hardcore-ass-dramas like Crash, Michael Pena plays a lisping, effeminate, troubled security guard alongside Rogen. It's interesting to think that this same kind of supporting role always exists in your garden variety Happy Madison production played by Rob Schneider. Michael Pena is actually funny though. That's the Jody Hill difference.
COLLETTE WOLFE: You may remember Collette Wolfe as the young woman taking the Tae Kwon Do class in the Foot Fist Way. I liked her in that and loved her in this. She plays a mall food court employee that befriends and encourages Rogen throughout the picture. She serves as the sweet center to the film's very rough exterior, and has a very real quality that will hopefully get her more good work. Yes, I kind of have a crush on her.
CAMEOS: There are a few great delightful cameos by comedians that add a lot of laughs. Azziz Ansari plays a pervert mall kiosk worker that Rogen thinks is a terrorist and Patton Oswalt plays an asshole food court manager. Azziz particularly references Chick-Fil-A in a way that made me want to stand up and cheer. There is one more big one that I would like to keep a secret which I know is unheard of on this site. I don't think who it is will be that surprising but it was easily one of the funniest and most badass scenes in the whole movie. It's also great because where we first get to see Rogen's inner badass which reaches crescendo at the already infamous OldBoy homage.
This is a category that deserves to be mentioned for this film particularly because it's so refreshing to see a real bland mall and real mall people. It always seems like most films that take place in the US are shot in NYC and LA or on the backlots. This bugs the shit out of me because most of America does not live in NYC or LA. Jody Hill gives us that real crappy mall we grew up in chock full of wondrous cutaways of overweight people snacking on ice cream cones, tween couples with hands in each others' back-pockets, and hordes of goth kids. They don't look like hired extras. It looks like they just set up and shot the real deal.
Simple but effective cinematography brings all of this to life in a style that's very stripped down with a great use of negative space. Yes, I did take Generic Filmmaking 201.
I hope most of the music wasn't temp score because there are some kickass songs in this movie. There were a lot of grinding, gritty garage rock revival type music that would make T. Bone Burnett proud. As I am a die-hard Queen, I was overjoyed to hear about 3 or 4 very obscure Queen tracks in some of the films biggest scenes. If not Jody Hill himself, whoever does the music selection is surely the type that digs through countless LP's to find that right song for the right scene. However, one song I really REALLY am hoping was temp score was the use of The Pixies "Where Is My Mind?" at the film's climax. I mean, yeah it worked but that song was already used in such a prolific manner by Fight Club that I don't really want to hear it in anything else. There's so much music out there and so many songs that would give the same epic vibe, so why do we need a song that was already used so well in something else?
THE OLDBOY HOMAGE
For those unfamiliar with Oldboy, it features one of the best fight sequences of all time which is literally a several-minute-long one take of one man bringing the hammer down on a dozen bad guys. There is a direct homage to this in Observe and Report. HOWEVER, they only do the long take... for under a minute. It's still quite awesome.. but if there was one thing... ONE THING... that I would say could merit a costly re-shoot....... if anyone in the production is out there reading... they should go back and go all out and do the full several minute take. There is a point where other characters get involved in the scene and thats where I think they would have to cut but c'mon.... the people involved with this production have the talent to pull it off. I believe in them. It might be impossible though because Seth Rogen's all lean now for Green Hornet.
That is all. If you decide to use this review, call me JUDGE DOOM. Feel free to edit at will. I know its long.
Oh, and AICN talk-backers, don't forget to cover your bases. BE SURE TO....
- Talk shit about Seth Rogen because he's popular and his involvement in the Green Hornet is unfathomable.
- Talk shit about Jody Hill because you think he's popular even though barely anyone knows who he is (although they should)
- Talk shit about me for liking Seth Rogen and Jody Hill because therefore I must be a plant.
- Talk shit about me for referencing Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with my username because it is "minor-Zemeckis".
- Talk shit about J.J. Abrams and McG.
- Talk a WHOLE PARAGRAPH of shit about the guy in the TB section who says "FIRST!"
- Get on a tangent about pre-destination or intelligent design.
-(my favorite) Have one complete psychopath in the TB section who spits profanity-laden brutally violent tirades about Seth Rogen, Jody Hill, J.J. Abrams, McG, intelligent design, misplaced aggression towards his community college professors, and everyone involved with Aint It Cool News.
I think that's about it. Thanks for the opportunity!
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Dec. 22, 2008, 5:08 p.m. CST
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:09 p.m. CST
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:11 p.m. CST
Cuz that about sums up talkback culture. oh and my FIRST is in the content of my post making me unique.
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:14 p.m. CST
Not that I hate Farrel, other than Talledega Nights, but Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked up ect... especially Pineapple Express are all smart and worthy of viewship. I loved the ending of Express where they sit around talking about all the impossible shit that they went through, that was something that needed to be done as I have often imagined what Briggs and Murtawg (whatever) would do the day after Lethal Weapon 2 or so.
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:20 p.m. CST
by Kurutteru Yatsu
Made it about halfway through before I turned it off. Definitely had some laughs but the stretches between them felt like they were never going to end. Hope this turns out better, between Rogen and Oswalt I feel obligated to give it a chance.
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:32 p.m. CST
god that piece of crap was boring
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:39 p.m. CST
It's even funnier because of it's classic use on Fight Club. You can't use a song like that in another drama until the end of time, but using it in a comedic context is perfectly acceptable. It made the final chase about ten thousand times funnier.
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:42 p.m. CST
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:46 p.m. CST
"The Foot Fist way was easily in my top ten of films I saw this year" Erm, no. It was alright but very vanilla. I could name 40 films I've seen this year that were far better.
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:48 p.m. CST
Yeah, the guy who said first was all bad and stuff, because the guy who wrote the review said I was supposed to say that, so I did. And, um, tenth, or something.
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:51 p.m. CST
by Tin Snoman
Will it go head-to-head against that Kevin James mall cop film? Why are two mall cop movies coming out around the same time? Which came first? WHO WILL WIN THE BATTLE OF TUBBY MALL COP FILMS???
Dec. 22, 2008, 5:53 p.m. CST
Well, that's half good. Unfortunately, the writer director didn't have anything to do with the good half. Only the really really shitty half.
Dec. 22, 2008, 6:14 p.m. CST
I think I got that memo when I renewed my geek cred card. It's getting tough these days to keep track of all the famous people I'm required by geek cred rules to hate... Shia LeBuff, Ben Affleck, Jonah Hill, Will Smith, Kevin Smith, Michael Bay, "first" posters, Scriptgirl, Jondough... I'm pretty sure there are a few people I've never even heard of yet that I'm obligated to hate... that's how ahead of the curve talkback is these days!
Dec. 22, 2008, 7:03 p.m. CST
but it was only good because it was new and fresh. It had some great momentsbut as noted above there were some long pauses between really good scenes. As a low budget movie it was a great surprise.<p>Teh article itself is a mystery to me. A review, critique, and potential screenplay rewrite simultaneously, including cast availability guides? Don't people just say what they though tof the movie any more? There is a sequence referencing a great sequence from a great movie that could be great if not for the fact that the lead actor is making another movie and has lost weight, and so this scene is destined not to be great due to scheduling and continuity issues?<p>Fuck off and just review the damn movie!
Dec. 22, 2008, 7:33 p.m. CST
Dec. 22, 2008, 7:35 p.m. CST
by Mr. Moe
Plus, anyone who considers that scene in Oldboy one of the best fight scenes ever seriously needs to stop being a critic.
Dec. 22, 2008, 7:37 p.m. CST
Paul Blort movie?? Where's Kevin James? What is this now? Pixar/Dreamworks.
Dec. 22, 2008, 7:47 p.m. CST
by the milf lover
after the dual releases of Dante's Peak and Volcano, Armageddon and Deep Impact, Bug's Life and Antz, we now get Paul Blart Mall Cop and Observe And Report. It's like the same script gets sold to every studios and they make a different movie with it.
Dec. 22, 2008, 8:11 p.m. CST
LOL Seriously, all my hopes that this movie really works.
Dec. 22, 2008, 8:54 p.m. CST
Dec. 22, 2008, 9:30 p.m. CST
Do he and his restraining order know this?
Dec. 22, 2008, 9:49 p.m. CST
Not that I'm offended, he just sounds like an 8th grader who cusses because he thinks it makes him sound cool. I like Rogen, but I do find that really annoying.
Dec. 22, 2008, 10:39 p.m. CST
The reviewer is a die hard queen? Guess anyone can review movies nowadays
Dec. 22, 2008, 11:02 p.m. CST
by Fa Fa Fooey
That's a good first start.
Dec. 22, 2008, 11:05 p.m. CST
Damn you Mastidon
Dec. 22, 2008, 11:11 p.m. CST
why "garage rock revival" would make T Bone Burnett proud. He's never really had anything to do with "garage rock."
Dec. 22, 2008, 11:43 p.m. CST
by they call it the dip
I'm proud to see that a good 9 out of 10 comments about my first review on Aint It Cool are pretty venomous. It's like I finally lost my virginity. But who am I kidding? I'll never know what that's like.
Dec. 23, 2008, 12:24 a.m. CST
by The Dum Guy
Or, maybe I just gotta take a shit.<br><br>On that note: Teh review raped my childhood<br>I loved Planet of the Apes<br>and<br>I haven't seen the Fisting with a Foot Way film, but I'll check it out.
Dec. 23, 2008, 12:24 a.m. CST
by The Dum Guy
Dec. 23, 2008, 1:19 a.m. CST
Barely funny. Barely a story. Filmed lo-fi but took NO advantage of that fact. If Foot Fist Way is any indication of Jody Hill's "talent", I'll skip this, thanks. Dude needs to read a freaking screenwriting book. Maybe take a community college course on basic storytelling...
Dec. 23, 2008, 1:21 a.m. CST
is really, really ridiculous. It's like a guy in clown shoes saying to everyone, "Hey, I know I look stupid. So you don't have to say I look stupid." Okay, I don't have to, but I'm going to anyway. Because you look stupid.
Dec. 23, 2008, 1:23 a.m. CST
but that makes me a talkback cliche, too.
Dec. 23, 2008, 1:25 a.m. CST
sounds like, behind maybe Spinal Tap and Monty Python's Holy Grail, one of the greatest comedies ever made.
Dec. 23, 2008, 1:53 a.m. CST
If Eliza Dushku can cave in, why can't she??!
Dec. 23, 2008, 2:24 a.m. CST
Never called plant before...But the already infamous Oldboy homage? Nobody has even heard of this film before, let alone any supposedly infamous scenes. I watched Foot Fist Way. Fucking awful. Danny McBride is too good for that shit. Obviously Seth Rogen isn't.
Dec. 23, 2008, 2:44 a.m. CST
by Motoko Kusanagi
Dec. 23, 2008, 2:56 a.m. CST
Dear Mr. corporate hack reviewer fucktard you forgot to mention talking shit about the intern at the publicists who was handed the job of writing a "review" of this movie. Psst...that would be you rain man, clear?
Dec. 23, 2008, 4:19 a.m. CST
by Pondscum is Banned
Then I thoroughly reccommend that you rent it at once, it does truly pwn as a movie - think David Lynch meets Death Wish in Korea. Ah Charlie Bronson, if only you were still alive, you'd have been perfect for the Western re-make. <P> As for this review, my ADD kicked in and I couldn't finish it. But I imagine, like all modern comedies, all 8 jokes will be shown in the trailer and the rest will be filler / romantic sub-plot.
Dec. 23, 2008, 4:29 a.m. CST
by Alonzo Mosely
Far be it from me to cast aspersions, but that is awful PR friendly... Oh, and how did we end up with dueling Mall Cop pictures? 100 plus years of cinema and nothing, and then two come along at once...
Dec. 23, 2008, 7:04 a.m. CST
by Mr. Zeddemore
Is an excellent film. This, on the other hand, sounds terrible.
Dec. 23, 2008, 7:07 a.m. CST
Just saying... bored to tears.
Dec. 23, 2008, 8:03 a.m. CST
did the reviewer make a reference to Shia "even stevens" lebouf in there? HE FUCKING SUCKS
Dec. 23, 2008, 8:44 a.m. CST
by alice 13
if not then this movie sucks.
Dec. 23, 2008, 8:50 a.m. CST
Too bad there's no award for "Funniest Woman Alive," because she would get it in like a second. The way TV and movies are it's like if a lady's not on SNL she's not even up for consideration whether she's funny or not. Anna Faris is not only funnier than *anybody* currently on SNL, but moreover, the woman has about as much balls as anybody on Earth for going the comedy route without taking the snl/ucb/2nd city path.
Dec. 23, 2008, 8:52 a.m. CST
by Tin Snoman
I say Kevin James, but ONLY if he rides around the mall on a Segway. Because that's heee-larry-ous.
Dec. 23, 2008, 9:10 a.m. CST
Mix Hollywood's decade-long creative drought hitting its nadir with the fact that it's January, and there's your answer.
Dec. 23, 2008, 9:33 a.m. CST
by wampa 1
...that came up with this one?
Dec. 23, 2008, 9:42 a.m. CST
by I Dunno
and that Shia LeBeof fella, where have they been hiding themselves? They're like recluses. I LITERALLY HAVEN'T GOTTEN MY FILL OF THESE PEOPLE!<p>Anna Farris is smoking hot, BTW. But she's hotter with black hair.</p>
Dec. 23, 2008, 9:45 a.m. CST
Dec. 23, 2008, 9:55 a.m. CST
or does Seth Rogen look like a shaved ape in that photo?<p>(And i say this with absolutely nothing against Seth Rogen.)
Dec. 23, 2008, 10:35 a.m. CST
by Stuntcock Mike
Enough Seth, take a break.
Dec. 23, 2008, 11:15 a.m. CST
That's about as accurate as getting eyefuck by this movie, since we know fuck all about it.<p> Although the Cameron directing part of the equation is troubling. They should have got Brett Ratner, that guy has got mad directing skills, unlike that poser Cameron. All his movies are like old and shit.<p>Ah, the sweet sound of nerd outrage in 3...2...1
Dec. 23, 2008, 11:34 a.m. CST
by two fathoms deep
You're dumb. That is all.
Dec. 23, 2008, 11:46 a.m. CST
You just set off the nerd alert. Congrats kid.
Dec. 23, 2008, 12:06 p.m. CST
by they call it the dip
Judge Doom here and I am completely unfazed by all of your hateful comments. After the life I've had? Yeah right. When I was little, I was stricken with polio, scoliosis, and spina bifida SIMULTANEOUSLY confining me to a wheelchair through adolescence. School was hell for me. The only friends I could talk to were the ones I could carve out of wood. My only dream was to some day be a corporate plant for ICM and be able to write long-winded and pointless reviews to appease all of you... and maybe.. just maybe make a friend. I guess that was just too much for this "die-hard Queen" to ask for.
Dec. 23, 2008, 1:09 p.m. CST
Becasue there is a VERY big difference.
Dec. 23, 2008, 1:17 p.m. CST
Of course I've heard of Oldboy. But I've never heard of this film before or it's already supposedly famous homage to Oldboy.
Dec. 23, 2008, 2:01 p.m. CST
Sweet lord. How can you exist on this site and NOT have heard of OldBoy? I'm shocked. Actually, I'm outraged. God should have struck you down by now.<p>Please return your 'Movie Lover' card on the way out of the door.
Dec. 23, 2008, 2:03 p.m. CST
You really do have a hard-on for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" don't you? 'They Call It The Dip', 'Judge Doom'.... it's the Jessica Rabbit thing isn't it? Either that or you like Bob Hoskins. If it's the second one, you may join WhinyNegativeBitch in leaving this TalkBack and I suggest you head straight to your nearest place of worship to bathe in some sort of holy water.
Dec. 23, 2008, 3:43 p.m. CST
by they call it the dip
... meaning i'm a prancing, mincing, West Hollywood queen with a fetish for John McLane, the line was actually supposed to read "die-hard Queen fan."
Dec. 23, 2008, 4:06 p.m. CST
by they call it the dip
.. and Bob Hoskins. There's never been a better Mr. Smee if a ask me. And my hard-on for Roger Rabbit is large enough to defeat the George Washington monument in a duel.
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