Starring: Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Ray Liotta
Directed by: Jody Hill (“The Foot Fist Way”)
Written by: Jody Hill (“The Foot Fist Way”)
Take it for what it’s worth: the new comedy “Observe and Report” is the best mall-cop movie of the year.
That doesn’t say much since the only other film under that category this year is the terrible “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” where we were able to witness actor Kevin James hamming it up on a Segway against skateboarding ninja wannabes. After that, who wouldn’t want another mall-cop movie, right?
In “Observe and Report,” Seth Rogen is our anti-hero and he’s got a lot more punch behind the silver badge he wears so proudly than James has in his porn-stache. As Ronny Barnhart, a bipolar security cop working at the local mall, serving and protecting the establishment’s patrons is everything he cares about.
His pride takes a hit, however, when a streaker in the mall starts showing off what’s under his trenchcoat to shoppers. When the pervert, as he is referred to in the movie, flashes himself to Ronnie’s love interest, cosmetics girl Brandi (Anna Faris), the shriveled-up exhibitionist becomes Ronnie’s only link to her life and therefore the only way he can win her over.
With that, Ronnie sets forth to catch the perv with help from his curly sidekick Dennis (Michel Peña) and a few other uninteresting secondary characters that rely on their physical awkwardness and not their actual personality to make them memorable additions to a sometimes hilarious script. Ray Liotta (“Wild Hogs”) as a city police officer befuddled by Ronnie’s acute stupidity is the only saving grace in this aspect.
While the narrative pushes the breaks one too many times, Rogen, Liotta, and especially actress Celia Weston (“In the Bedroom”) as Ronnie’s drunk mother, are enough reasons to tip the scales of justice toward favorable. And if you do find yourself less than entertained by another mall-cop movie in 2009, stay for the third act, which pushes the humor onto a level very few comedies dare to tread.