Who would have thought that being a mall security guard would be so exciting that 2 major Hollywood movies would come out in the same year about the subject? Not me! First, there was Paul Blart: Mall Cop staring Kevin James, now there is Observe and Report written and directed by Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way) and staring Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express) as Ronnie Barnhardt, a bi-polar head of mall security at Forest Ridge Mall. Ronnie is more intense and definitely funnier than Paul.
There is a flasher running around the mall disturbing the public. Ronnie and his crew of nitwit security guards, Dennis (Michael Pena, Lions for Lambs), the Yuen twins (John and Matt Yuan) and Charles (Jesse Plemons, TV’s Friday Night Lights), are on the case. When Brandi (Anna Faris, Scary Movie 1-4), make-up counter worker and the object of Ronnie’s fantasies, is flashed, Ronnie’s boss Mark (Dan Bakkedahl, TV’s The Daily Show) calls in the cops lead by Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta). Ronnie takes an instant disliking to Detective Harrison because he is everything he is not. Detective Harrison is a cop and also catches the eye of Brandi, two things that Ronnie is unable to accomplish.
Besides the flasher, there is also a string of after-hour robberies that have been taking place at the mall. There is a strong possibility that it may be an inside job. While Ronnie doesn’t notice her, coffee-shop worker Nell (Collette Wolfe, Four Christmases) certainly notices him. They confide in each other their lives ups and downs when Ronnie gets his free cup of coffee before starting work everyday.
Seth Rogen is one of the hardest working people in Hollywood these days. In 2008, he stared in 4 movies, did voice work in 3 movies, was the screenwriter for 2 movies and produced 1 movie. This Canadian-born actor is busy, eh? Observe and Report provides many funny moments. When Ronnie goes to a firing range with the Yuen twins, or how about when Ronnie holds one of his security meetings, or when Ronnie is busy at work keeping the patrons of Forest Ridge Mall safe. I could provide more examples, such as when Ronnie has heart-to-heart talks with his always drunk mother (Celia Weston, Jolene Hunnicutt from TV’s Alice), but I think you get the picture. By the way, where is Forest Ridge Mall? I don’t know, do you?
Michael Pena’s performance also causes a lot of laughs. His hip-hop flavored, soft-speaking mannerisms are really laughable. It would have been nice if Pena would have had more screen time.
For parents of young viewers the R-rating Observe and Report has is well deserved. I don’t know if there is a record for how many times the F-word is used in a movie, but I’m pretty sure Observe and Report either comes close to or easily breaks the record. The scenes involving the flasher, positively including the scene when Ronnie chases the flasher through the mall, reveals more of a man’s anatomy than I wanted to see and I’m sure you’ll feel the same when you see that the flasher’s body would make any personal trainer cringe. Sorry Randy! Randy Gambill is the actor that plays the flasher or pervert as he is called in the movie.
Jody Hill pens and directs a movie that is hilarious in parts, but contains parts that may make you want to plug your ears or cover your eyes. In terms of comedy, Observe and Report steps on and over Paul Blart: Mall Cop.