Protecting the Mall Again
Never underestimate a mall cop. Viewers who havenít seen Paul Blart, Mall Cop have another opportunity to learn this lesson by watching Observe and Report, starring Seth Rogen as head of security at a mall plagued by visits from a flasher. But this time, thereís more drama than laughs. Rogenís character suffers from a bi-polar disorder, so the movie deals with his extreme psychological reactions while carrying out his duties. Fortunately, Rogen handles this often unsympathetic role with surprising passion and depth.
Aiding and abetting Rogen in Observe and Report are Michael PeŮa and Ray Liotta, who also deliver strong performances. PeŮa is very funny as a fellow mall cop who seems to idolize Rogenís character. Although Iíve been impressed by PeŮaís wonderful dramatic work in films like World Trade Center, Crash and Shooter, I never expected him to be such a fine comic actor! Liotta (Wild Hogs), playing a local police detective whoís called in to solve the flasher problem, attacks his role with his usual intensity. Heís excellent in scenes where he toys with the mall copís ambition to become a real policeman. Anna Faris (The House Bunny) excels as an insensitive cosmetic counter clerk; Collette Wolfe (The Foot Fist Way) projects early Annette Bening-type appeal as a new mall worker abused by her boss; and Celia Weston (Junebug) alternately evokes cringes, chuckles, and tears as an alcoholic single mother trying to cheer up her depressed son.
What makes Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen) tick like a time bomb? Not being able to carry a gun surely ranks high on the list. Giving away the pills prescribed by his doctor doesnít help matters any, nor does his rivalry with Detective Harrison (Liotta) and his subsequent application to the police academy. When the explosion comes, itís a big one. Because of Ronnieís strange view of reality and his bigoted behavior, itís difficult to empathize with him -- but we canít help hoping things will change for the better in his life.
Observe and Report, written and directed by Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way), focuses on characters instead of plot, which may bother some viewers. However, the movie worked for me because of its splendid casting. My only complaints? Overuse of the ďfĒ word and too much nudity. (Yes, there goes my inner Church Lady rebelling against the same old things again!)
Ending on a positive note, itís important to mention that Seth Rogen is on a roll lately. Heís the best thing about Monsters Vs. Aliens -- and his fascinating performance in Observe and Report should earn him many new fans.
(Released by Warner Bros. Pictures and rated ďRĒ for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence.)
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