Saturday, April 25, 2009

OBSERVE AND REPORT - the second "comedy" in a month to feature a rape scene*

Director Jody Hill seems to have a talent for taking talented comedians and putting them in deeply unsuccessful vehicles viz. Danny McBride in THE FOOT FIST WAY and now Seth Rogen in OBSERVE AND REPORT. Apparently, Hill's aim was to create a dangerously subversive black comedy that captured the tragic loneliness of human existence a la TAXI DRIVER (I kid you not.) Such a movie would've been superb, if not highly derivative of Scorsese and de Niro's own KING OF COMEDY. But Jody Hill's film is neither black comedy nor conventional comedy. It's just poorly written, ill-concieved and boring. It takes a special skill to make comedy that is truly bleak but still entertaining. Ricky Gervais pulled it off with his TV series THE OFFICE, and in film, IN BRUGES and BAD SANTA were funny but tragic at the same time. It takes a writer who can finely judge the balance of tone and who is unafraid to mine human vulnerability. No matter how self-interested and callow David Brent is, we have to still like him, still see ourselves and our own vulnerabilities in him, otherwise, he just becomes an unlikeable idiot and we switch the TV off.

The first problem is, then, that Seth Rogen's character isn't likeable or sympathetic. In fact, he is singularly unpleasant chap. Like Paul Blart: Mall Cop, he's an out-of-shape security guard who dreams of being able to use firearms and to win the hot blonde chick of his dreams. Unlike Paul Blart, he's demeaning to co-workers, lacks any self-awareness and drugs, then rapes the girl of his dreams. (Yes, she may drunkenly ask him to continue, but someone who has taken a bottle of pills and vomited on the pillow is in no position to give informed consent.)  Even if it weren't for this decidedly unpleasant plot turn, the movie would be a failure because it simply generates no laughs. I swear the only time I even smiled was when Aziz Ansari, playing a retailer, has an argument with the jumped-up mall cop and calls him out for his racist, bigoted attitude. The pacing is slow, Ray Liotta is on auto-pilot, there isn't enough of the brilliant Anna Faris, and there's too much offensive bullshit.

Jody Hill needs to watch THE OFFICE, BAD SANTA, IN BRUGES and KING OF COMEDY before being let near a script again.

*The first was THE BOAT THAT ROCKED. Because if trying to trick a girl to have sex with Boy Y when she thinks she's going to be fucking Boy X isn't attempted rape, what is?

OBSERVE AND REPORT is on release in the US, Canada, Iceland and the UK. It opens on May 8th in Estonia and Romania; on May 14th in Australia, Russia and Lithuania; on May 22nd in Norway; on May 29th in Finland and South Africa; on June 11th in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria; on June 18th in Germany; on July 10th in Italy; on September 4th in New Zealand and on September 25th in Sweden.


  1. Hmmm, I respect you disagreement with the film. But as such:
    After viewing it again, I agree that the film seems odd and disjointed, having prolonged pauses on scenes that seem unnecessary. I also think that those awkward scenes give a absurdists deadpan style that probably wouldn't go well with the general audience.
    The director is touted for saying the film is a comedic version of "Taxi Driver", far from it. But the film is this generation's spawn of it, whether it is liked or not. And either way I still laugh at it and appreciate the stunted laughs I give to the film. Aside from Rogen, I feel there are numerous odd-ball if not out of the normal career choice actors in it. One of most attention is Micheal Pena.

  2. Interestng thoughts, Anonymous.