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Observe and Report(2009)
At the Forest Ridge Mall, head of security Ronnie Barnhardt patrols his jurisdiction with an iron fist, combating skateboarders, shoplifters and the occasional unruly customer while dreaming of the day when he can swap his flashlight for a badge and a gun. His delusions of grandeur are put to the test when the mall is struck by a flasher. Driven to protect and serve the mall and its patrons, Ronnie seizes the opportunity to showcase his underappreciated law enforcement talents on a grand scale, hoping his solution of this crime will earn a coveted spot at the police academy and the heart of his elusive dream girl Brandi, the hot make-up counter clerk who won't give him the time of day. But his single-minded pursuit of glory launches a turf war with the equally competitive Detective Harrison of the Conway Police, and Ronnie is confronted with the challenge of not only catching the flasher, but getting him before the real cops do.
For more about Observe and Report and the Observe and Report Blu-ray release, see Observe and Report Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 20, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Seth Rogen, Ray Liotta, Michael Peņa, Anna Faris, Dan Bakkedahl, Jesse Plemons
Director: Jody Hill
» See full cast & crew
Observe and Report Blu-ray Review
For those who take their comedy without cream and sugar...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 20, 2009
When Observe and Report first slid out of my Blu-ray player, I honestly had no idea what I had just watched. I only knew one thing: it was hilarious. With enough raunch and spittle to make the already tame Paul Blart: Mall Cop look like an episode of "Dora the Explorer," with enough shocks and surprises to leave me shaking my head and wiping tears out of my eyes, with enough sullen-faced dark comedy to make Judd Apatow and his ilk blush, Observe and Report is a blazing breath of searing air in a genre that desperately needs more like it. Brushing against the same pseudo-natural extremes as director Jody Hill's own Foot Fist Way, it draws its fiercely funny inspiration from an eclectic batch of films -- at one point, Hill simultaneously pays homage to Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz and Chan-wook Park's Oldboy with a bloody battle between his hero and a dozen police officers -- while establishing a tone and temper all its own. The fact that it brandishes its much-deserved R-rating like a freshly shorn scalp will turn some viewers away; that it revels in its protagonists' discomfort and eccentricities will alienate even more. However, anyone who lets go and joins funnyman Seth Rogen on his journey to the brink of madness will find the film to be a biting, unpredictable, and infectious laugh-riot worth watching again.
Forest Ridge Mall security guard Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) takes his job seriously. A bit too seriously. Between taking prescription drugs for bi-polar disorder, fighting to earn the respect of a bitter detective (Ray Liotta), and taking care of his alcoholic mother (Celia Weston), the furrowed brow head of security is determined to track down a maniacal flasher plaguing his precious shopping mall. The flasher's latest victim? Ronnie's dream girl (Anna Faris), a shallow, mean-spirited ice queen more interested in manipulating everyone around her than in returning his affections. Helping him rid the mall of skater punks, double parkers, and his naked nemesis is a loyal crew of guards: best friend and protege Dennis (Michael Peņa), overweight twins John and Matt Yuen (John and Matt Yuan), and former bouncer and new recruit Charles (Friday Night Lights' Jesse Plemons). But can Ronnie catch the devious flasher? Pass the police department's entrance exam? Find out who's been robbing the mall at night? Survive an encounter with a crack dealer (Danny McBride)? Gain the upper hand in his rivalry with a kiosk worker (Aziz Ansari)? Realize how much he's adored by the young woman (Collette Wolfe) who serves him coffee each morning?
If Observe and Report strikes you as a patchwork series of comedy sketches, it's because... well, it is. The plot itself centers around Ronnie's misadventures and exploits; its quote-unquote story is fairly incohesive and, at best, a scattershot slice of a very, very bizarre life. But that's exactly what allows it all to work so well. A number of arguments could be made about the nature of the film. Is it a parody? Without a doubt. Dark comedy? Of the bleakest, blackest variety. A romantic comedy? Indeed. But any attempt to label Observe and Report wedges it in an undeserved corner; one that neglects the intentionally reckless abandon Hill employs to drag Ronnie to hell and back again. The laughs hit as hard as they do because they're altogether unexpected. The emotional core of the flick emerges so effectively because it's a shock to the system. Key characters become increasingly sympathetic because they're initially presented as such one-note caricatures. Only after Ronnie completes his subtle metamorphosis into an endearing, albeit idiosyncratic hero, does the method to the director's madness become clear. That's not to say every sharp-tongued loser and snarky enemy who crosses Ronnie's path is worth loving -- Faris' character in particular is one of the most vile comedy creations I've had to endure -- but Hill rapidly weeds out those who are unworthy of our time from those who deserve a second look.
Don't get me wrong: Observe and Report isn't a timeless classic, nor is it a flawless source of irreverent humor or a finely crafted cinematic gem. Hill showcases his relative inexperience by squandering too much time with unnecessarily redundant sequences (like Ronnie's inebriated haze with bestie Dennis), and borrows, begs, and steals from other films too often to warrant a complete pass. However, there's a prevailing sanity amidst the insanity that makes his sophomore effort a rewarding one. I laughed so hard I woke up my sleeping wife; I felt genuine empathy for Ronnie, despite his outlandish behavior; I clapped my hands like a little kid more times than I care to count or admit. Observe and Report isn't a perfect film, but I'm hard pressed to remember the last time I found a comedy that left me flushed, wheezing, and tearing up. Even though it isn't for everyone, it's bound to develop a small but loyal following in the years to come. Give it a shot and see if its ripcord comedy appeals to you.
Observe and Report Blu-ray, Video Quality
To be quite honest, I didn't expect much from Observe and Report's 1080p/VC-1 transfer. Chalk it up to my preconceived notions or lingering impressions of Hill's Foot Fist Way, but I thought his second feature would be a soft, noisy throwback to the sort of grit-n-grind comedies of old. I certainly didn't expect the sharp, rich, refined presentation Warner apparently had in mind. Colors are strong and satisfying, fleshtones are spot on (minus a smattering of rosy faces), and black levels are inky and absorbing. Contrast is just as commendable, granting nearly every scene admirable depth and dimensionality. Detail occasionally falters -- though I doubt it has much, if anything, to do with the studio's transfer -- but, for the most part, textures remain crisp and natural, edges are well-defined, and overall clarity is striking. Better still, I didn't detect any significant artifacting, banding, aliasing, or unintentional noise. Only a bit of crush and ringing (minor as they both are) caught my attention. All things considered, Observe and Report offers one of the more consistent comedy transfers I've reviewed and should readily please fans and newcomers alike.
Observe and Report Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Observe and Report features an equally proficient Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track; one that matches the intensity of the film's hilarious action beats and visceral show-stoppers beat for beat, pound for pound. Dialogue is clean, intelligible, and generally well-prioritized. A few lines are forced to contend with Joseph Stephens' music, but it's rarely a distraction. Rear speaker activity is subdued but convincing, filling Ronnie's mall with enough ambient chatter and acoustic wizardry to enhance everything from Mark's office to the interior of Harrison's squad car. Likewise, LFE output is aggressive when called upon but reserves most of its muscle for chases, altercations, and moments when the soundtrack takes center stage. It all combines to create an immersive soundfield bolstered by precise directionality and silky pans. The hefty (and repeated) thunk of Ronnie's flashlight is worth the price of admission alone; the quality of the mix and the weight of his war cries even more so. Far from the strictly conversational comedy I expected, Observe and Report delivers some memorable sonic goods.
Observe and Report Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Observe and Report arrives with a bevy of exclusive features including a Picture-in-Picture commentary and other notable extras. While the majority of the content is fairly underwhelming, it's nice to see Warner giving high definition enthusiasts yet another reason to shell out their hard-earned cash.
Observe and Report Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I should probably feel guilty for laughing as much as I did, but as far as I'm concerned, Observe and Report is one of the funniest comedies of 2009. While it's far from perfect, I have a feeling I'll be revisiting Forest Ridge again in the near future. Warner's high definition efforts slapped a grin on my face as well. With an excellent video transfer, a strong TrueHD audio track, and a solid supplemental showing (composed almost entirely of exclusive content), this is a Blu-ray comedy worth owning. The film itself is too divisive to recommend a blind buy -- renting the disc is definitely the way to go for your first viewing -- but everyone, even those who are new to Hill's sharply written dark comedy and Rogen's deadpan antics, will be ecstatic to see how good Observe and Report looks and sounds in high definition.
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Observe and Report Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - September 22nd - September 22, 2009
Over the past decade, spoof films have become somewhat of a Hollywood sure-thing. If you're all out of unique idea, call up a Wayans brother and ask them to star in a spoof of the latest hot property (look for 'Vampire Movie' next summer just kidding I hope). ...
• Warner Announces Observe and Report Blu-ray - July 31, 2009
Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring the Seth Rogen film 'Observe and Report' to Blu-ray on September 22nd, day-and-date with the DVD release. This comedy will be presented in 2.40:1 1080p AVC accompanied by a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack.
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