Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Don’t ‘Observe’ this film

Ronnie (Seth Rogen) consoles Brandi (Anna Faris) in Jody Hill's "Observe & Report."

To give Jody Hill’s “Observe and Report” any credit for being an indie-comedy (it somehow appeared in the SXSW film festival, don’t ask me how), a decent comedy, or even a comedy to which I could attribute any sort of qualitative metric would be to justify its squalid and mindless existence that, beyond a vocabulary that is faithfully limited to the F-word, is a perfect example of the sort of humor that led many to laugh at Don Imus’ comments two years ago.

Sexism and racism should only be saved for those writers and directors who keep full-fledged parody: or social commentary: in mind, not for those who use it to get a cheap laugh and a few million more bucks in their pockets. I think we’ll shove Jody into the dim-witted corner directors like Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (“Scary Movie,” “Date Movie,” “Meet the Spartans,” among other atrocities) already occupy.

Maybe I’m being a tad too hyperbolic. I mean, the protagonist of this 86-minute stretch of ennui is, admittedly, a try-too-hard faux cop who goes after a perpetual indecent-exposure offender in an attempt to impress the ersatz tough-guy who is the official detective on the case. So, I guess the premise just doesn’t allow for much does it?

It doesn’t help that races are nicely divided into distinct roles like each component of the Prentiss salad bar. The Asian twins (Matt and John Yuan) idolize Ronnie (Seth Rogen) and do whatever he says, the Mexican guy, Dennis (Michael Peña), speaks with a lisp, is a thief and escapes across the boarder before he is caught, the Arab guy is ignorantly named Saddamn (Aziz Ansari) and runs an island stand in order to hit on women, and, last but not least: the epitome of white trash: Ronnie’s nameless mother (Celia Weston) who sits in a recliner and drinks all day.

It also doesn’t help that Ronnie date rapes the ditzy make-up salon girl (Anna Faris) rather than pursuing some sort of halfhearted, respectable relationship with the always-coffee-providing Nell (Collette Wolf). Though Ronnie ends up with Nell, this never really matters because he refuses to change his repellent self-centeredness, rendering the relationship completely unbelievable.

While the crux of the plot swivels around both Ronny’s attempt to become a real police officer and his pursuit of an anonymous flasher who has blinded mall-goers, it’s easy to tear through this movie’s indie and black comedy labels to reveal its pointless, unfunny and self-deprecating core. The most painful part about this movie is not watching the non-parodied racism or sexism, but watching the movie unknowingly chastise itself with a successful inadvertent critique of mall cops everywhere, essentially telling mall owners: ‘they’re impotent and expendable, so why don’t you fire them next?’
I have no idea why its thematic predecessor “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” instantly became a sleeper hit (which is more telling of our society than of the movie itself). It wasn’t funny and neither is this one. Let’s hope Hollywood gives the already clichéd mall cop genre a rest.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *