Observe and Report

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Michael Pena, Jesse Plemons and Seth Rogen in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Observe and Report” (2009).

Michael Pena, Jesse Plemons and Seth Rogen in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Observe and Report” (2009).

Observe and Report
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Run Time: 1 hr. 26 min.

This movie is an obscenity. It is obscene using any standard. It has full frontal male nudity (an old fat flasher), but that’s the least of it. It appeals to the lowest standards of language and morality. Since the star is Seth Rogen, it should come as no surprise that it is loaded with F bombs.
This film is in such astonishingly poor taste that it labels the taste of the people involved as pathetic purveyors of pornography. If Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart (who, when ruling on pornography, said, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced… but I know it when I see it”) saw this, he’d know what he was seeing without need for a second’s evaluation.
The flimsy plot is that Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen), who suffers from bipolar disease, is chief cop at a mall and he’s trying to catch a flasher. His antagonist in trying to catch the flasher is a real cop, Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta). What’s surprising about this film is that Liotta usually drops lots of F bombs. He doesn’t do it much in this film, maybe because Rogen used all that were available. Anna Faris is the cheap tart, Brandi, to whom Ronnie is attracted, and Collette Wolfe plays beautiful, sweet, soft-spoken Nell, a truly ridiculous character. Writer-director Jody Hill manipulates the audience’s sympathy about her because he has her apparently disabled and unable to walk. Turns out she just had a temporary bad leg. She seems a normal person, but Hill has her with a crush on Ronnie. Nobody in his or her right mind could have any kind of affection for Ronnie, who acts like an unappealing vulgarian. Her attraction to him is totally without credibility.
Just as an example of the degradation to which this exposes its unsuspecting audience, Brandi gets horribly drunk and vomits. Ronnie promptly kisses her. That’s not funny; it’s stomach-turningly disgusting.
The ending is shocking, trivializing violence to a degree rarely seen in a movie. The filmmakers manipulate the ending into trying to make the audience believe that Ronnie, who has acted as an imbecile throughout, is some sort of hero. I saw it at a regular showing, so I tarried after and asked a few people if they had ever seen a worse movie. None had.
This is the kind of movie that could have never been made during the years of the code. The code has been decried by many in Hollywood, but when there was no nudity in films, when there was no graphic sex, when there was no graphic violence, when there was no profanity, movies were much better. Who can deny that many more entertaining and memorable movies were made in the 34 years of the code between 1934 and 1968 than have been made in the 41 years since?

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