Observe and Report

Movie Information

The Story: An obnoxious mall cop attempts to capture a flasher before the police department can, all the while attempting to woo a girl who works behind a cosmetic counter. The Lowdown: An unfunny, pointless comedy with nary a redeeming or likable quality, and definitely nothing to recommend.
Score:

Genre: Supposed Comedy
Director: Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way)
Starring: Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Ray Liotta, Michael Peña
Rated: R

It’s been approximately a day and a half since I watched Jody Hill’s Observe and Report, and I’m still attempting to figure out what the point of the movie is. This has been complicated by the fact that I’ve simultaneously been purging any memory I have of the film. The movie is forgettable to start with, but I’d like to think that my brain is in the middle of some sort of survival reflex in an attempt to wash away the bad taste the experience left me with.

Observe and Report is, actually, noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First, there’s a good chance that Seth Rogen’s overexposure has reached its tipping point—not to mention that the latent smarminess that usually accompanies his screen persona has finally come into full bloom. Secondly, this might be the first comedy in the history of film to be completely and utterly devoid of any sort of joke or gag. Instead, what passes as humor is just wave upon wave of juvenile vulgarity. I’ve seen more clever writing on the stall of a truck-stop bathroom.

The setup is simple. Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, a bipolar mall-security guard who lives with his promiscuous, alcoholic mother (Celia Wilson, The Invasion) and carries around an unrequited love for a department-store cosmetics-counter girl (Anna Faris, making her role in Scary Movie (2001) look pretty damned exquisite). It’s not until a flasher (Randy Gambill) starts terrorizing the mall and a series of robberies crop up that Ronnie sees his chance to become a hero, with the only obstacle in his way being a local detective (Ray Liotta) who’s also on the case. Throw in a couple of Queen songs (c’mon, hasn’t Freddie Mercury been through enough at this point?) before devolving into aimless Taxi Driver (1976) territory, and there’s the movie.

If it all sounds like an R-rated Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), that’s because it is. The only difference really lies in Kevin James’ Paul Blart being of the lovable-oaf variety, while Rogen’s Ronnie is one of the most detestable characters to grace the silver screen in some time. A violent, racist, antisocial doofus, Ronnie’s the type of unpleasant, creepy person you’d burn a path to avoid in real life, making paying $9 to watch a movie about the guy just that much more perplexing.

In fact, none of the characters has any redeeming qualities. Even the one who comes across as halfway sympathetic—a sweet-natured “born-again virgin” (Collette Wolf, Four Christmases) who works the counter of a cinnamon-bun stand—is probably in need of severe psychiatric counseling for ever taking a liking to Ronnie. Hill, who wrote and directed this mess, seems more intent on parading around his cast of grotesque miscreants for the simple sake of mockery than ever showing any sort of sympathy towards them or making anything the viewer might give a damn about.

A handful of critics have praised Observe and Report for its willful ugliness, mistaking its repulsiveness for “edginess.” I found the movie to be simply obnoxious, juvenile and just plain old dumb. The movie can’t even muster the tact, energy or chutzpah to be honestly controversial. Rated R for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence.

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74 thoughts on “Observe and Report

  1. TonyRo

    Haha…I knew this would get a bad review in here as I was watching it. The best part is where you compare it to Paul Blart, like every other critic out there. Awesome. Cause God forbid a movie be viewed on it’s own merit alone.

    My other favorite part is where you missed the point of the movie completely and then admit it.

  2. Justin Souther

    The best part is where you compare it to Paul Blart, like every other critic out there. Awesome. Cause God forbid a movie be viewed on it’s own merit alone.

    So two movies about loser mall cops come out within the span of months and that should be ignored? Why exactly? Notice I didn’t say one was better than the other.

    And I did judge the movie on its own merit. Mainly that it doesn’t have any.

    My other favorite part is where you missed the point of the movie completely and then admit it.

    It’s more that I admitted that I saw no point in it to begin with. I wouldn’t mind finding out some alternate points-of-view however.

  3. Ken Hanke

    God forbid a movie be viewed on it’s own merit alone

    First of all, movies don’t exist in some vacuum. They’re part of a general pop culture, and they’re certainly a part of the world of movies. But more, the movies in question are too similar not to address the issue. They’re both movies about hefty mall cops, who both want to be real cops, who both are in love with a pretty girl who works at the same mall, who isn’t keen on them. (OK, one works a cosmetics counter and one works a hair extension kiosk.) Both films conclude with the mall cop saving the day and redeeming himself.

    All that to one side, I’m curious to know just what the point of the movie was, because I missed it, too.

  4. Dread P. Roberts

    All that to one side, I’m curious to know just what the point of the movie was, because I missed it, too.

    I like to believe that the point of such movies as this is for me (as well as a good deal of other Cranky Hanke’s Movie Review readers, I would imagine) to gain a level of entertainment value from reading the review(s) – and the comments that oftentimes follow. It certainly is amusing enough to me to get excited at the prospect of a really ‘bad’ movie being reviewed. Perhaps Hollywood has caught wind of the slightly bizarre enjoyment factor associated with these kinds of reviews; so instead of making coherent comedies, the big studios have reverted to throwing anything annoyingly bad that they can think of, in the hopes of getting a really enjoyably bad review written. This way the people who are entertained by this sort of film can still watch it, while the rest of us don’t have to, but can be just as (if not more) entertained by reading the review. In most cases, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved except for the reviewer(s). Perhaps this is the evolution of comedy films. Which means that the ‘reviewer(s)’ are therefore sort of responsible for the very existence of these movies. Ironically (in theory, at least) the only ones who suffer are the reviewers who are forced to sit through such things, and they aren’t going to get a whole lot of sympathy, considering that they have what some people might constitute as a borderline ‘dream job’.

  5. T.H.X. Pijonsnodt, Esq.

    All that to one side, I’m curious to know just what the point of the movie was, because I missed it, too.

    We didn’t expect such perspicacity from you, anyways.

  6. Ken Hanke

    Which means that the ‘reviewer(s)’ are therefore sort of responsible for the very existence of these movies.

    You make me hang my head in shame — and I didn’t even write this particular review.

  7. Ken Hanke

    We didn’t expect such perspicacity from you, anyways.

    It’s not every day you see someone say “perspicacity” and “anyways” in the same sentence.

  8. entopticon

    Now I am curious. J. Hoberman, whose opinions I agree with more than most film critics (though not always) gave Observe and Report a very good review. If I get out to see it, I’ll be interested to see if I agree more with Justin and Ken, or Hoberman.

  9. Dread P. Roberts

    Perspicacity is a damn fine word!

    You make me hang my head in shame—and I didn’t even write this particular review.

    Justin is coming along quite well as a cranky protege. He is doing a good job of proving himself as a worthy equal.

  10. Ken Hanke

    If I get out to see it, I’ll be interested to see if I agree more with Justin and Ken, or Hoberman.

    Comedy is perhaps the most subjective of all genres. I remember a David Denby review (I think it was for Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen) in which he reported that the theater was “completely silent except for the sound of Vincent Canby laughing. What happens to that man at comedies?” It’s so much a case of you either do, or you don’t find something funny. No amount of explanation or assessment of other qualities of the film will change that. (And comedies aren’t known for their cinematic style as a general rule.) Bottom line with this film is I didn’t laugh once.

    I do think there’s a certain amount of “fear of being unhip” hovering around some of the gush found in reviews of supposedly edgy comedies. You know, a sense of “this has a lot of bad language, unlikeable characters and penis shots in it, so it must be hip stuff.” I’m not pointing a finger at Hoberman. I don’t even remember if I’ve read his review. This is simply a general observation.

  11. TonyRo

    It’s not that I disagree or agree with the review that was written. I enjoyed it and, like I said, didn’t expect a favorable review for in the Mountain Express. My issue is with comparing it Paul Blart simply because they both have a main character who’s a mall cop. If you watch the movie, you see that this film goes beyond that and into the weird and very depressing life of Seth Rogen’s character.

    As for a point? I suppose the point is that no matter how normal someone tries to act, we all have our own issues to deal with and that maybe we shouldn’t let that destroy our dreams.

    I think by just focusing on the racy or shock factors involved, you’re just reducing the entire flick to it’s lowest form.

  12. Bert

    “I’ve seen more clever writing on the stall of a truck-stop bathroom.”

    That’s the impression the previews gave me, and why I have no desire to see it. It’s pretty said that the funniest thing they can pitch in the previous is his mom saying “I’m drunk.” Also his girlfriend informing us that “alcohol burns really good.” Ha ha, what a very clever and witty script they have turned out. I mean seriously, my dog can come up with a more clever script than that.

    I’ve also talked to some girls who say there is a very offensive bit involving how funny date rape is, and how all the girls really like it deep down. What a stupid movie. People should go see that showing of A Fish Called Wanda if they want to see a genuinely clever comedy film.

  13. Ken Hanke

    My issue is with comparing it Paul Blart simply because they both have a main character who’s a mall cop.

    Except that the similarities don’t end there.

    If you watch the movie, you see that this film goes beyond that and into the weird and very depressing life of Seth Rogen’s character.

    Yes, what you end up with is a depressing, unpleasant variant on Paul Blart. I hardly think that makes it deep. It just makes it unpleasant. And though I didn’t review the thing, I frankly went into it in the belief (as I stated to several people) that it “has to be better than Paul Blart,” but it wasn’t.

    As for a point? I suppose the point is that no matter how normal someone tries to act, we all have our own issues to deal with and that maybe we shouldn’t let that destroy our dreams.

    The movie affords us a “hero” who is a creepy, sociopathic, racist, homophobic jerk. I fail to see that there’s much room for a message here. On the other hand, that’s almost exactly the message of Paul Blart.

    I think by just focusing on the racy or shock factors involved, you’re just reducing the entire flick to it’s lowest form

    For me, the film is its own lowest form to begin with, but even so the “racy or shock factors” are what the movie is sold on. Those are precisely the things that set it apart from, yes, Paul Blart. Did you see Paul Blart?

  14. entopticon

    What made me think it was particularly interesting that Hoberman gave it a good review, is that he tends to be much harder on Hollywood films than just about any major film critic. I’m guessing that’s why the Village Voice originally chose him. One of my friends who is a documentary director and producer for public television seems to have no patience for any other major film critic for that reason. I can’t really imagine Hoberman being of the school of thought that bad language and penis jokes make a film hip, but I definitely did get the impression that he was impressed with the fact that the protagonist was so unlikeable.

    I certainly agree that comedy is particularly subjective, and there are so many different kinds of humor. There are times when people I respect think films are hysterically funny, that I can find little humor in, and vice versa. There are even times that I suddenly find something or someone funny even though I never did before. Several comedians have been that way for me, and a few films as well.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I can’t really imagine Hoberman being of the school of thought that bad language and penis jokes make a film hip, but I definitely did get the impression that he was impressed with the fact that the protagonist was so unlikeable

    Like I said, I wasn’t accusing Hoberman of this, merely noting that quite a few of the reviews had the feeling of being grounded not so much in finding those elements hip, as in the fear of being branded unhip for not liking the film.

    There are times when people I respect think films are hysterically funny, that I can find little humor in, and vice versa.

    Exactly. It’s also worth noting that an audience can impact the idea of what’s funny and what isn’t. I’ve long wondered if I’d seen Bad Santa with a more receptive audience (no one laughed) I would have liked it more. I doubt it, but it’s possible. Then again, people were howling at R.V. and it had no effect on me at all, except to baffle me.

  16. Dread P. Roberts

    I believe Ken and Co. have mentioned this before, but another issue that is worthy of mentioning when talking about the subjective nature of comedy films, is the age of the audience. I have laughed at several comedies in the past, that have little to no effect on me nowadays. Plus, ones mood at the time of viewing can have a big impact on just how funny the movie is. I have noticed (by virtue of past acquaintances) that sometimes the people (especially teenagers) that are most…um…’bubbly’ in the personality department, are more prone to laugh at just about anything. However, I don’t think that I am automatically just being stingy if I’m not in the mood – at that particular time – for a comedy. I have watched movie(s) before that I didn’t find funny, but a short time later would laugh while mentally reminiscing certain scenes and/or events in the film. Comedy can sometimes be a very psychologically complex thing when you stop to think about it.

  17. entopticon

    I definitely agree that the audience can sway aesthetic receptivity, particularly with humor, because laughing is audible and often takes you out of cinematic space, making you aware of being in the theater and therefore the subject/object relationship of the percipient and the projection.

    I find that others laughing can be both contagious and grating. When I saw Synecdoche NY there was a nervous laugher in the audience, and I found it very distracting at times. When people are laughing at a moment that wasn’t intended to be funny, it can be a bit jarring, like trying to step down onto a stair step that wasn’t really there.

    In many cognitive psychology experiments, they do what they call priming. Priming is usually a suggestion or condition that is meant to affect the outcome. One interesting example I can think of was a study where two groups were both given a strong stimulant. One group was primed with the knowledge that they had been given the stimulant, and the other was not. The group that was primed tend to respond positively. They were giddy and energetic. The group that wasn’t primed tended to respond negatively. They were nervous, uncomfortable, and anxious. Expectation seemed to be the deciding factor between the same experience being positive or negative.

    I actually think that priming factors heavily into appreciating films too. With films I see priming as the ads, the promo interviews, the trailers, and the reviews. All those factors can certainly have a strong influence on the subjective phenomenological experience of the percipient.

    In myself, I have noticed a very strong tendency to be pleasantly surprised if my expectations were artificially low (for example, if I hated the trailer or disliked one of the actors) and the film turns out to exceed my expectations. It seems that if I have very low expectations, I am much more lenient with artistic license and I am more likely to appreciate some aspect that wouldn’t have wowed me otherwise.

    When I saw Tropic of Thunder, I thought it was pretty funny, but one of the main writers turned out to be someone that I used to be acquainted with and found kind of annoying at times. Since then I have wondered if I had known that he wrote it going into the film, if I would have seen it differently.

  18. Ken Hanke

    I have laughed at several comedies in the past, that have little to no effect on me nowadays.

    There was a time when I liked Abbott and Costello. I haven’t the slightest clue why at this point.

    Plus, ones mood at the time of viewing can have a big impact on just how funny the movie is. I have noticed (by virtue of past acquaintances) that sometimes the people (especially teenagers) that are most…um…’bubbly’ in the personality department, are more prone to laugh at just about anything. However, I don’t think that I am automatically just being stingy if I’m not in the mood – at that particular time – for a comedy.

    Very much a factor, and one that is particularly a problem for the critic, who doesn’t have the luxury of saying, “I’m not in the mood.” (If that were the case, I’d never have seen my second Will Farrell picture.) There are times, though, when this might be in a movie’s favor. As witness this:

    “I walked into Freaky Friday in a truly vile frame of mind — preoccupied with all sorts of issues not related to the movie and stressed-out to an alarming degree. At film’s end, no, all my troubles hadn’t vanished (nothing so miraculous as that), but I realized I had not thought about them at all for 90-odd minutes. I had completely escaped into the fantasy and comedy laid out before me by director Mark S. Waters and his two stars. Now, any movie that can do that is doing something very right indeed.”

    So my not being in the mood for a comedy probably worked in the movie’s favor. There are other times when I would have resented an attempt to cheer me up. Rather like when people mindlessly tell me to have a nice day and my inner response is, “You can’t make me.”

  19. Steven

    I have a question for Ken after reading a few of the responses, Do you like [i]Taxi Driver[/i]? I know you’ve said that you’re not exactly a fan of Martin Scorsese, even though you’ve liked his last three films quite a bit.

  20. Ken Hanke

    In myself, I have noticed a very strong tendency to be pleasantly surprised if my expectations were artificially low (for example, if I hated the trailer or disliked one of the actors) and the film turns out to exceed my expectations.

    If you hated the trailer or disliked one of the actors, I wouldn’t say that your expectations were “artificially low.” I’d say they were reasonable based on the evidence at hand or suggested by history.

    It seems that if I have very low expectations, I am much more lenient with artistic license and I am more likely to appreciate some aspect that wouldn’t have wowed me otherwise.

    I’m not entirely clear on how you’re using the term “artistic license” here, but I see a potential problem with this line of reasoning, because if you set your expectations low enough, chances are just about anything will be better than you anticipated.

  21. entopticon

    The reason that I said “artificially low” was simply to refer to cases where the trailer gave me a false impression that the film would be worse than it really was or I made a false assumption that an actor that I have previously not liked would be bad in a film based on their past work, but it turned out that he or she was actually pretty good in the role. I agree that it is reasonable to have doubts about a film if the trailer is bad or it features an actor who has been bad in the past, but if the film turns out to be good, it means the assumptions underlying that reasoning were inherently flawed.

    With the term artistic license, I was really just using it in the ordinary sense, meaning that if I have lower expectations, I find that I often have an easier time allowing for a bit more of a stretch of the elasticity of what’s feasibly acceptable. Probably just because I expect a bad film to be hard to swallow. I can’t really see how there is a line of reasoning to be problematic, because it’s just an account of my subjective idiosyncrasies, not an argument. It’s true, if my expectations are low enough, most things will be better than expected. That said, expectations are something that I have little control over, so there is no easy way to game my expectations so that I’m always pleasantly surprised.

  22. Ken Hanke

    I have a question for Ken after reading a few of the responses, Do you like Taxi Driver? I know you’ve said that you’re not exactly a fan of Martin Scorsese, even though you’ve liked his last three films quite a bit.

    A fair question and one I really can’t answer. Taxi Driver is a film I didn’t much care for when it first came out and which I’ve not seen (at least in its entirity) since then. What this means is I’m not really in a position to say how I feel about it until I see it again. That brings us to the fact that it’s on my list of things to get around to reassessing. Maybe we could coerce Carlos into running it for World Cinema and giving me the excuse to really sit down with it.

  23. Ken Hanke

    With the term artistic license, I was really just using it in the ordinary sense, meaning that if I have lower expectations, I find that I often have an easier time allowing for a bit more of a stretch of the elasticity of what’s feasibly acceptable.

    See, for me that sounds a bit like granting artistic license when what you’re really encountering is very probably mere incompetence. I think of artistic license as being a deliberate choice.

  24. Tonberry

    I must have been in the mood for “Observe and Report,” but that was not my intention going in. A friend had told me just how unfunny it was, yet I should go and see it anyway as for someone who wants to make films.

    Perhaps this movie is a great guilty pleasure for me. It was about twenty minutes in that I asked myself “I am really liking this, I know I shouldn’t, but I am. Perhaps it only gets worse from here–” Only to find myself so fascinated with the movie, that at the end, I could not deny that I was entertained and that I laughed, a lot.

    Reading Souther’s review, and others; it is obvious to state that “Observe and Report” is a polarizing movie, big time. I guess you either have a taste for this sort of thing or you don’t. Why does that say about my taste? (Crap!!!)The only thing I know is that not everyone is going to feel the same way I do, hence I’m not going to try to convince anyone to feel differently, or immaturely worse, flame them.

    I don’t feel that “Observe and Report” is some new ground-breaking dark comedy that’s edgy for having unlikable characters. It was just recently that we had “Burn After Reading,” and I don’t remember that film being hailed edgy for it’s unlikable characters, mean heartedness, and violent ending. People want to compare “Observe and Report” with “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy”; I can’t help but compare it to “Burn After Reading” though much much more low brow.

    Now I did go into this movie with low expectations, and I was surprised by it. However I think low expectations has a 50/50 chance of improving a movie. It ‘may’ have helped my opinion of “Observe and Report” but low expectations did not help “Dragonball Evolution” at all, which I saw after this film.

    “Observe and Report” is highly fantastical, nonsensical, and at times, a little too all over the place. Probably because it doesn’t try to hide these facts is why I liked it. A ‘mean drunk’ of a movie if there ever was one, I may just have see it again to see if it holds up –I’m still a bit undecided on it overall, I just know I liked it .

  25. entopticon

    That raises an interesting paradox, Ken. The term “granting artistic license” suggests volition, but artistic license also refers to the degree to which the percipient feels they can accept distortions or unlikelihoods that the story takes for the sake of the narrative at the expense of realism. Since we don’t usually get to choose how we feel, new age philosophies not withstanding, is is questionable whether or not we could really make a deliberate choice to feel one way or the other about it. I don’t think I have ever said to myself, “I choose to believe this unlikely plot twist.” I have certainly been cognizant of the unlikeliness and still been unbothered, but I have never consciously chosen to not feel bothered, and I am not sure that it could ever be authentic if I did.

  26. Ken Hanke

    I don’t think I have ever said to myself, “I choose to believe this unlikely plot twist.”

    I think we’re approaching the idea of artistic license from opposite ends here. To my mind, it’s not something that originates with the viewer, but with the creator of the work deliberately taking license (see Crank: High Voltage, which, whatever else it is, is deliberately so). You can, I suppose, grant artistic license on someone else’s work — consciously or not — but unless there was a deliberate choice on the maker’s part, it strikes me as merely a generous reading. You should realize that this is coming from someone who isn’t especially sold on realism as the end-all-be-all in art.

  27. The film was resoundingly stupid, no doubt, but the ending of the film — the chase scene — made up for a lot. It was certainly a surprise, and I’d argue it was almost worth wading through the rest of the film to get to it.

    But the film is problematic on other levels, and lot of what it seemed to be promoting bordered on intellectually repugnant. The entire way through, I kept thinking “If this was being played by anyone other than Seth Rogen, this character would be one of the most unsympathetic leads ever.”

    Rogen plays him as being a harmless-seeming goof, when he is in fact quite a horrible person. And he’s never redeemed, and even his moment of glory at the end is pretty terrifying when you think about it in any kind of realistic context.

    I also wondered if the end was going to be a revenge fantasy, and instead the main character was actually in an mental ward somewhere. I’d have liked that ending immensely.

  28. Justin Souther

    It was just recently that we had “Burn After Reading,” and I don’t remember that film being hailed edgy for it’s unlikable characters, mean heartedness, and violent ending. People want to compare “Observe and Report” with “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy”; I can’t help but compare it to “Burn After Reading” though much much more low brow.

  29. Justin Souther

    Let’s pretend this post and my last one are one and I didn’t accidentally press enter.

    Anyways, the difference between Burn After Reading and Observe and Report is that the former has an aim. Not only that, but the humor isn’t simply predicated on the audience and the movie making fun of the grotesqueness of its characters. Sure, many of the characters are imbeciles, but they manage to operate in normal society. Not only that, but they’re occasionally innately likable.

  30. Ken Hanke

    I kept thinking “If this was being played by anyone other than Seth Rogen, this character would be one of the most unsympathetic leads ever.”

    Since I don’t find Seth Rogen particularly endearing, his playing the character didn’t keep from being one of the most unsympathetic leads ever for me.

  31. entopticon

    Ken, I agree that it does seem that granting artistic license and taking artistic license are two very different things. Granting it involves less volition than the phrase implies because we don’t generally get to choose how we feel about something, but taking it definitely requires cognizance.

    Concerning granting artistic license, it seems that we commonly assume considerably more volition than we truly employ. I’ve always noticed that every time I have ever attended a panel discussion/debate on free will and determinism, the free will side has conceded that much if not most of what people assume to be conscious choices are actually a case of conditioned and/or hardwired responses. It’s not just a fortunate coincidence that Chinese people like Chinese food so to speak.

    When films take artistic license without consciously doing so, that is generally a problem in my opinion. For example, if a legal drama is written by someone without legal expertise who overlooks that some central element in the story is unrealistic, that can be problematic.

    I am definitely with you that realism is not always a requirement, or even desirable in many cases. For example, it would be suffocating in a Tim Burton film, or a Hal Hartley film for that matter. On the side of taking artistic license, I think there is no limit, but I think the key is that it must be done consciously, or it degrades from artistic license to to thoughtlessness and carelessness.

  32. wncbob

    i saw this movie last night and was soooo disappointed…was not really that funny at all except for a couple of laughs that were few and far between. i gave it a chance because i LOVE foot fist way and eastbound and down, which were also directed by jody hill.

  33. Hurted

    I’ve seen Observe & Report four times and my appreciation for it only increases with each viewing. I mean, honestly Ken – a half a star? You’re saying that something that takes as many risks (and clearly you think having an unlikable lead is a huge risk for some reason) as this film does isn’t worth a single star? That it, in fact, is worse for taking risks than other comedies that simply phone it in for mass audience appeal? Seriously?!?

    Come on, the shot of the raffle car being driven out of the mall is worth more than a half a star. The drug montage with Dennis is worth more than half a star. The scene with Ronnie and Nell just before the end is worth more than half a star. The Chic-fil-a joke is worth more than half a star. Celia Weston’s utterly fearless performance alone is worth more than half a star. The scene of Ronnie’s psych exam is worth more than half a star. The use of The Band covering Dylan in the opening is worth more than half a star. Jesse Plemons is worth more than half a star. The scene where Ray Liotta breaks the bad news to Ronnie is worth more than half a star. Ann Farris after being flashed is worth more than half a star. And the ending…THE ENDING!! You honestly saw nothing in that last five minutes that didn’t make you think the film was at least striving to do SOMETHING different than so many of the comedies we’ve seen come out of studios in the last twenty years??? That’s not worth a single, ridiculous star???

    So what if we laugh at characters instead of with them? Why again is that considered something so horrible or even “low brow”? So what if there’s not an obvious point or moral or message to a film whose main purpose is to make you laugh (which this one does many, many times)? Can someone tell me what the point of The Big Lebowski was? Really, who made up these rules and how can I punch that person in the face?

    This is crazy. A half a star is crazy, Ken. So you didn’t find it funny, fine. BUT A HALF A STAR??? That’s more offensive than anything in this movie.

    Oh and, by the way, you’re not really making a good case for yourself as a judge of comedy when you think pulling out the old “I’ve read more clever writing in a truck stop bathroom” line makes for interesting copy…

  34. Ken Hanke

    The most interesting thing about that rant lies in the fact that all this ire being directed at me is over a review that is clearly labelled by Justin Souther, who, in case anyone is curious, also awarded it the half-star. It really does pay to know where to aim.

  35. Justin Souther

    Can I pretend my name’s Ken for a second?

    You’re saying that something that takes as many risks (and clearly you think having an unlikable lead is a huge risk for some reason) as this film does isn’t worth a single star? That it, in fact, is worse for taking risks than other comedies that simply phone it in for mass audience appeal? Seriously?!?

    First off, I see nothing risky about any of it. It’s R-rated Napoleon Dynamite, complete with penis jokes and white trash. What exactly is “risky” about any of it? It’s certainly not challenging anyone, it’s just being puerile.

    In fact, if it had “phoned it in” (and I’m not entirely convinced this movie didn’t) it probably would’ve gotten a star, star-and-a-half and been forgotten about by now. Instead, it actively annoyed me with its juvenile idiocy and ineptitude, and now this has 36 comments. So that’s saying something I suppose.

    And the ending…THE ENDING!! You honestly saw nothing in that last five minutes that didn’t make you think the film was at least striving to do SOMETHING different than so many of the comedies we’ve seen come out of studios in the last twenty years??? That’s not worth a single, ridiculous star???

    I saw a naked man running around a mall in slow motion to a pointlessly bland Pixies cover. Oh, and then the big “shocking” climax. Sure, I’ll concede that it’s different, and usually I can respect that. But different has to be packaged with something other than just four letter words, which to me is all this movie is.

    So what if we laugh at characters instead of with them? Why again is that considered something so horrible or even “low brow”?

    For me, the whole point of movies — the whole point of art — is to connect. I’m not saying that every movie is art, but rather that the audience should be able to sympathize or relate to the characters they see onscreen. It’s about creating something a person can can feel or understand, and the greatest movies all have this in some fashion or another.

    OK, so I realize how hokey and corny that sounds, but for my money, it’s the truth. Nevertheless, achieving this is a lot harder than simply throwing some buffoons onscreen for everyone to point and laugh at. By creating sympathy for characters, it shows that the filmmaker actually has some sort of experience dealing with people and has some insight into the world.

    This doesn’t mean that movies have to be sanitized or lovey-dovey. I watched Roger Avary’s The Rules of Attraction (now there’s a good example of risk-taking) the other night which is filled with character that are as seedy or seedier than the ones in Observe and Report. Not only did I laugh more during this movie (which really isn’t a comedy), there’s not one likable thing about any of the people in this movie, yet, by the end, you end up feeling oddly sympathetic towards them. It’s all about attitude, since the feeling is that Avary actually gives a damn about the wayward college kids he’s portraying. Hill just wants to laugh at rednecks.

    So what if there’s not an obvious point or moral or message to a film whose main purpose is to make you laugh (which this one does many, many times)?

    But I didn’t laugh. At all. You have to understand that comedy is subjective so you can start to see where our disconnect is.

    And it’s not so much a moral message I’m looking for, but rather something more than some tired “follow your dreams” message buried underneath everything. The movie just meanders about then dies. I wanted to feel like there was a reason I just wasted the longest 85 minutes of my life.

    Oh and, by the way, you’re not really making a good case for yourself as a judge of comedy when you think pulling out the old “I’ve read more clever writing in a truck stop bathroom” line makes for interesting copy…

    And all this time I thought I was being scathing.

  36. Ken Hanke

    And all this time I thought I was being scathing.

    How about “I’ve read edgier writing on the walls of ladies’ restrooms at country club teas”?

  37. Hurted

    “Hill just wants to laugh at rednecks.”

    What?!? Where is this coming from? How is this evidenced in the film itself whatsoever? Are you calling Ronnie a redneck? If so, I question how you can live in Asheville and not ever have met a redneck. Walk outside.

    This comment sounds like you went into the film already having made up your mind to not like it because you don’t like Jody Hill and I assume didn’t like the Foot Fist Way (which is also hilarious). And, my God, Observe & Report has NOTHING in common with the rambling plot-less structure of Napoleon Dynamite. If that’s the only comparison you can make then you need to up your Netflix subscription, buddy.

    And, yes, I understand comedy is obviously subjective but then so is taste, and as a PUBLISHED FILM CRITIC I just expected you to have some. Rules of Attraction?? Really?? The same old Bret Easton Ellis gloom and doom of privileged, oversexed, overdrugged rich white people shtick? Aren’t those rich people just monsters?? Booooooring. That movie sucked, dude. There’s more honesty and reality in the opening montage of Observe and Report than the entirety of Rules of Attraction.

    Again, terrible comparison. Next…

  38. Ken Hanke

    This comment sounds like you went into the film already having made up your mind to not like it because you don’t like Jody Hill

    I can’t speak for Justin, but I went into this movie without the first idea of who Jody Hill was. It may come as a surprise to you, but The Foot Fist Way doesn’t seem to have gotten a very good release (it didn’t play locally at all), so that’s not all that surprising. I also went in thinking this had to better than Paul Blart and it was worse.

    The same old Bret Easton Ellis gloom and doom of privileged, oversexed, overdrugged rich white people shtick? Aren’t those rich people just monsters??

    If that’s what you got from The Rules of Attraction, I’d say you completely missed the point.

  39. Justin Souther

    Are you calling Ronnie a redneck?

    Would you prefer white trash?

    This comment sounds like you went into the film already having made up your mind to not like it because you don’t like Jody Hill and I assume didn’t like the Foot Fist Way (which is also hilarious).

    I never bothered watching The Foot Fist Way, partially because it never got released here and partially because I was turned off by the trailer which basically said the only reason it got it’s even mild distribution is because Will Ferrell liked quoting it.

    Actually, I went into this movie mildly curious because a friend of mine keeps recommending East Bound and Down to me. Trust me, I gave this movie every opportunity to whelm me and it couldn’t, simple as that.

    And, my God, Observe & Report has NOTHING in common with the rambling plot-less structure of Napoleon Dynamite.

    Other than their rambling plot-less structures? Well, let’s see, they both deal with asocial, awkward losers with odd Latino friends who eventually prove themselves and win the heart of the mousy, gawky girl. Just one happens to have penis jokes and an R-rating.

    That movie sucked, dude.

    Well, you’ve certainly convinced me.

    There’s more honesty and reality in the opening montage of Observe and Report than the entirety of Rules of Attraction.

    If you want to talk about bad comparisons, the opening montage is of a mall opening. I think I’m missing the pertinence here.

  40. Ken Hanke

    Anyone want to remind me what the opening montage of Observe and Report was? I guess I didn’t find it very memorable.

  41. Hurted

    Well, it’s nice to know you two critics primarily only see films if they play here in town. That’s great. By my math, that means you only miss – what? – about a dozen good movies a year? Fantastic. Oh and Justin you’re absolutely right about The Foot Fist Way. Will Ferrell has no clue what’s funny at all. I certainly should defer to the man who thinks Rules of Attraction is a laugh riot…

    Let me ask you this – do you want people to judge your reviews based solely on the number of stars you give a film, or do you want them to read the actual review??? Because, forgive me, I don’t see how you judging a film based solely on its trailer is any different than the reader who stops at your star rating and reads no further. I guess by this logic you probably thought Benjamin Button was the best movie of 2008 just because it had a great trailer. Please. I mean, imagine the food critic who only went to Chili’s because it had a catchy jingle in the TV commercial!! Ridiculous.

    And as for this: “Would you prefer white trash?” No. Because again that’s not even remotely accurate in this case, and nevermind the fact it’s extremely judgmental. Did you miss the part in the movie where it explained that Ronnie is BI-POLAR? Are you saying that all “rednecks” and “white trash” are mentally ill and borderline homicidal? Or can you just not connect with someone who doesn’t have rich parents, pretty faces, and nice clothes like those precious babies in Rules of Attraction?

    It’s also nice that you manage to see nothing but skin color when comparing Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite to Dennis in Observe & Report. Those two characters are polar opposites, Justin. Do you really feel secure recommending the countless number of kids who loved Napoleon Dynamite go and see Observe & Report? Are you even suggesting that anyone who thought Napoleon was feel the same about Observe and Report? I like both movies but I would NEVER try to suggest to someone that they have anything in common. They’re apples and oranges, Justin. Aside from your extremely reductive attempt at a plot summary the two films are tonally different animals altogether. Observe has way, way more in common with something like the Big Lebowski (darkness, violence, nudity, profanity, and a wealth of humor for those smart enough to get it).

    And, honestly, if you thought Observe was plot-less then I question how well you even paid attention. I’m sure even Ken could tell you that Ronnie had ambitions of being a cop and set out to make that happen. And when a character has ambition and sets out to do something about it – that, Justin, is called PLOT. I’m sure there’s a class at AB-Tech that could help you out with this stuff, buddy. I don’t quite understand why it’s up to people like me…

    As for the opening montage in Observe, my point is simply that it feels like you’re watching a REAL mall (unlike anything in Mallrats, by comparison). There’s nothing in Rules of Attraction that didn’t feel artificial to me, and THAT’S the pertinence of my comparison. Rules is a forced mess of cynicism that gets mistaken as “serious” by people like you because it’s based on a novel. There’s nothing deep about any of those characters and there’s absolutely nothing we didn’t already see when the same basic story was done better in Less Than Zero. Or Kids. Or any number of other films.

    Of course, I don’t know if Kids or Less Than Zero played in Asheville, so forgive me for bringing up something you probably couldn’t be bothered to watch…

  42. Ken Hanke

    Well, it’s nice to know you two critics primarily only see films if they play here in town. That’s great. By my math, that means you only miss – what? – about a dozen good movies a year? Fantastic.

    Alright, how many movies do you watch a year? More to the point, how many do you have to watch a year? By my math, the two of us go through from 160-180 new movies a year. Now, add in film festival movies and that brings in another dozen or so. Then there are approximately two movies a week from local film groups. That’s another 100. With that to work from — and realizing that the practical policy of the paper is that only films that readers can go to see get reviewed — it should be pretty obvious that some movies aren’t going to be seen. You’ll forgive me if the immediate need to run out and see a movie called The Foot Fist Way didn’t leap out at me.

    Let me ask you this – do you want people to judge your reviews based solely on the number of stars you give a film, or do you want them to read the actual review??? Because, forgive me, I don’t see how you judging a film based solely on its trailer is any different than the reader who stops at your star rating and reads no further

    I’m guessing that you normally don’t read these reviews (did you hit this review by googling your friend Jody Hill?), because if you didn’t, you might be aware of the fact that the topic of star ratings and my objection to their use at all has been brought up on more than one occasion and quite recently in fact. Seems to me that you are the one who’s all hung up on the number of stars a movie gets, since you’re the one ranting and raving about how Justin couldn’t even give this tripe one star.

    And as for this: “Would you prefer white trash?” No. Because again that’s not even remotely accurate in this case, and nevermind the fact it’s extremely judgmental. Did you miss the part in the movie where it explained that Ronnie is BI-POLAR? Are you saying that all “rednecks” and “white trash” are mentally ill and borderline homicidal?

    I’m going to jump in here even though this question has nothing to do with me, because this is just too idiotic a leap. It seems to me that you are presuming that a redneck can’t possibly be bi-polar.

    Observe has way, way more in common with something like the Big Lebowski (darkness, violence, nudity, profanity, and a wealth of humor for those smart enough to get it).

    Those “smart enough to get it” — like you, I suppose that means. Are you really this stuck on yourself? And are you really so shallow that “violence, nudity, profanity” are yardsticks by which you measure the quality of a film? I’ve nothing against these things, but I don’t see them as immediate plus signs.

    I’m sure even Ken could tell you that Ronnie had ambitions of being a cop and set out to make that happen.

    If memory serves, I seem to recall that those were ambitions he hit upon during the course of the movie in a somewhat arbitrary fashion.

    As for the opening montage in Observe, my point is simply that it feels like you’re watching a REAL mall (unlike anything in Mallrats, by comparison).

    I’m not sure why you’re dragging Mallrats into this, since it hasn’t been mentioned, but if you want to talk apples and oranges, there’s a splendid case. But my real question — apart from wondering if this opening wasn’t Tim Orr doing the same time-lapse schtick he did with the derelict Sayles Bleachery in David Gordon Green’s All the Real Girls — is why I should want to watch “a REAL mall.” I mean, who cares? And it really isn’t like the antics that go on in Observe and Report are an ode to reality, is it?

    Rules is a forced mess of cynicism that gets mistaken as “serious” by people like you because it’s based on a novel.

    And by what process of mystical divination have you concluded how and why either of us have “mistaken” the film as serious because it’s based on a novel? This seems especially wide of the reasoning mark, since Justin refers very specifically to Roger Avary’s film and never mentions the novel. On the other hand, I referenced the film as superior to the novel in a review this past week. You’re not really making a good case for the rationale of “people like you,” when it’s obvious you really know little about either of us.

    If you honestly think that Less Than Zero or the abominable Kids are better than Avary’s film, I really don’t see that there’s much chance here for agreement on any level in this matter.

  43. Justin Souther

    Because, forgive me, I don’t see how you judging a film based solely on its trailer is any different than the reader who stops at your star rating and reads no further.

    As Ken pointed out, we watch a lot of movies. We also have full-time jobs and I go to school. Because of this, I certainly cannot watch everything that comes out. Therefore, a movie needs to give me more than Will Ferrell’s stamp of approval and Danny McBride, who’s never been funny in anything (I’m sure you and your exquisite taste will take exception to that).

    Because again that’s not even remotely accurate in this case, and nevermind the fact it’s extremely judgmental.

    I’m not sure how this guy and his mother don’t qualify as white trash. And I’m not sure how I’m the one being judgmental when the movie is parading Ronnie around, making fun of how stupid he — and everyone around him — is. But of course, he’s just mentally ill, so that’s a laugh riot.

    Do you really feel secure recommending the countless number of kids who loved Napoleon Dynamite go and see Observe & Report? Are you even suggesting that anyone who thought Napoleon was feel the same about Observe and Report?

    No, that’s not what I said at all. I said that they’re the same vein of filmmaking, one’s just R-rated, so it’s automatically “edgier.” There’s not a single person I’d ever recommend Observe and Report to.

    And when a character has ambition and sets out to do something about it – that, Justin, is called PLOT.

    Actually, that’s motivation.

    my point is simply that it feels like you’re watching a REAL mall

    Was the world really yearning for this?

    There’s nothing deep about any of those characters

    I hate to burst your bubble, but there’s probably more there that you relate to than your willing to admit. I know I didn’t the first time I watched it. Though I doubt there’s any point in trying to convince you otherwise.

  44. Tonberry

    So… I have said I liked the movie, that hasn’t really changed because I haven’t seen it again to see if it still holds up, but I have moved on.

    I go to check my e-mail and notice quite a chatter going on. Personally, I don’t understand how someone can get so upset if a favorite movie of theirs gets a bad review. First off, it’s only a opinion (how dare anyone speak different), and secondly, if you like the movie–does it really matter anymore than that?

    I love to debate movies just as any other movie nerd, as long as its civil. Yet this feels a little too much. I do not know what Mr. Hurted plans to gain from any of it.

    From someone who enjoyed “Observe and Report” I wouldn’t say Ronnie is a redneck, but he is definitely ‘white trash’ (the scene where he dresses up to go on his date for example) Also, I don’t know where that comparison to “The Big Lebowski” is coming from. Those characters were instantly likable. Well, for me anyway.

    I still stand by that these characters are as unlikable as the characters from the other Coen Brothers film, “Burn After Reading.” (Yet fascinating.)

    As for the opening shot, again I disagree with your comment that we are seeing a ‘real’ mall. I had more of the feeling we were seeing a ‘surreal’ mall accompanied by the song “When I Paint My Masterpiece” by The Band. When Ronnie’s looking over the mall as the song plays, you have a queasy feeling that something ain’t right here. The slow motion montage gave me the impression of a demented dream.

    Which leads me to my previous comment, it sets the tone for a fantastical movie. It’s Ronnie who is telling this story. Leading me to believe that most of what happens in this movie, is more in his head, than not. I don’t think I need to give an example of his many delusions.

    Just my 2 cents.

    (I hope this reads well, I am about to fall asleep.)

  45. Ken Hanke

    It’s Ronnie who is telling this story. Leading me to believe that most of what happens in this movie, is more in his head, than not.

    I don’t dismiss this reading out of hand, but it seems to me to be giving the film credit for a depth I’m hard-pressed to see.

  46. Dread P. Roberts

    you have a queasy feeling that something ain’t right here. The slow motion montage gave me the impression of a demented dream.

    it sets the tone for a fantastical movie. It’s Ronnie who is telling this story. Leading me to believe that most of what happens in this movie, is more in his head, than not.

    I haven’t seen “Observe and Report”, so I can’t state my own personal feelings about all of the issues discussed, but I can say that the above comment is EXACTLY what I have often tried to argue my case for how I felt about a good deal of what was going on in “Taxi Driver” (which was among the many movies used as a reference for comparison).

    I’ve got to admit, I never thought that Paul Blart, Taxi Driver, Napoleon Dynamite, The Big Lebowski, and Burn After Reading could ever all be thrown together into a mix of comparable films for one single movie. The very fact that this movie has gathered such a bizarre range of comparison, from various peoples point of view, to such different film styles and genres, seems like an accomplishment in and of itself, (not to mention the heated discussions it has stirred up) regardless of the overall ‘quality’ of the movie.

    I still stand by that these characters are as unlikable as the characters from the other Coen Brothers film, “Burn After Reading.”

    Is it wrong that in spite of the creepy nature of George Clooney’s character, I loved to watch him? From a purely entertainment related perspective, I found him rather enjoyable and, in a weird sort of way, even likable.

  47. Ken Hanke

    I’ve got to admit, I never thought that Paul Blart, Taxi Driver, Napoleon Dynamite, The Big Lebowski, and Burn After Reading could ever all be thrown together into a mix of comparable films for one single movie.

    I’m not sure you can — and make most of them stick.

    Is it wrong that in spite of the creepy nature of George Clooney’s character, I loved to watch him? From a purely entertainment related perspective, I found him rather enjoyable and, in a weird sort of way, even likable.

    I’m gonna say it’s not wrong, but then it doesn’t occur to me that I’m being asked to actually dislike the characters in Burn — Malkovich to one side maybe. I don’t find them repellent in the way I find the characters in Observe. They’re not mentally deranged sociopaths. Mostly, they’re just really stupid and self-absorbed.

  48. Hurted

    “The very fact that this movie has gathered such a bizarre range of comparison, from various peoples point of view, to such different film styles and genres, seems like an accomplishment in and of itself, (not to mention the heated discussions it has stirred up) regardless of the overall ‘quality’ of the movie.”

    Thank you – and that brings me right back to my original argument. That this movie deserves more than A HALF OF A PATHETIC STAR. Have I ever commented on any of your other reviews (and God knows your love for Speed Racer and Be Kind, Rewind warranted it)? No. Because I’ve never witnessed these reviewers be so completely snobbish and elitist before as to give a movie one HALF OF A STAR.

    If you didn’t think Observe was funny, then okay. Fine. A lot of people didn’t think Sideways was funny either, and I hope you’ll agree that those people are crazy. But a half a star suggests to your readers that there is essentially NO MERIT to Observe & Report whatsoever and that’s just ridiculous. Look how many freaking comments have been made about Observe & Report (before I showed up, even). And then tell me that a movie that can create this much discussion isn’t even worth the TWO STARS the almighty Justin gave to 17 Again. Explain that to me. Because how’s the discussion going on over there on the 17 Again boards??? Those four comments must surely be about how “just okay” the movie was, right? Oh wait, no they’re not even about the movie at all but how it was rated PG-13 for including smoking.

    I’ll say more later (which I’m sure you anxiously wait) but I don’t want to cloud this issue with other points/arguments/rebuttals.

    You gave this movie a half a star. You gave 17 Again two stars. Tell me right now that you honestly and sincerely believe 17 Again will have a longer shelf life than Observe & Report and I’ll shut up.

  49. Justin Souther

    Because I’ve never witnessed these reviewers be so completely snobbish and elitist before as to give a movie one HALF OF A STAR.

    We’ve given tons of movies half stars. Heck, I’ve even had more than my fair share. Let’s see, Delgo, An American Carol, Proud American, College, Fly Me to the Moon, Meet Dave,…and that’s just in the last year.

    See, I’m often snobbish and elitist.

    But a half a star suggests to your readers that there is essentially NO MERIT to Observe & Report whatsoever and that’s just ridiculous.

    You’re right, I did suggest that Observe & Report has no merit, and it’s an opinion I stick by and will continue to stick by until someone makes a convincing argument otherwise, which I still haven’t heard.

    Look how many freaking comments have been made about Observe & Report (before I showed up, even).

    Fireproof currently has 126 comments. The number of comments a review gets on a website is maybe the worst litmus test for the quality of a movie I can think of.

    You gave this movie a half a star. You gave 17 Again two stars. Tell me right now that you honestly and sincerely believe 17 Again will have a longer shelf life than Observe & Report

    I’m not sure what “shelf life” has to do with quality, since plenty of bad movies are still popular and since I’m convinced both of these movies will be forgotten within two years. While 17 Again is by no means a good movie, it’s ultimately harmless family entertainment that’s professionally made. The simple fact of the matter is that I found Observe & Report to be an obnoxious waste. Hence the difference in ratings.

    Did you even watch 17 Again? You wouldn’t dare judge a movie solely on its trailer, would you?

  50. Ken Hanke

    Because I’ve never witnessed these reviewers be so completely snobbish and elitist before as to give a movie one HALF OF A STAR.

    Then you haven’t been paying much attention. Try — of recent vintage — Miss March, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li and Punisher: War Zone.

    And then tell me that a movie that can create this much discussion isn’t even worth the TWO STARS the almighty Justin gave to 17 Again. Explain that to me. Because how’s the discussion going on over there on the 17 Again boards??? Those four comments must surely be about how “just okay” the movie was, right?

    The quality of movies has very little to do with the amount of discussion they generate — practically nothing in fact. What it really takes to get such a thing going is one person who is virulently at odds with the review.

    Tell me right now that you honestly and sincerely believe 17 Again will have a longer shelf life than Observe & Report and I’ll shut up.

    Well, in terms of immediate shelf-life 17 Again wins hands-down, since Observe and Report pretty much tanked. Come Friday it’ll be down to a split show at one local theater. 17 Again, on the other hand, is still doing pretty well. In the long term, who knows? My personal guess is that both of these movies are going to drift into insignificance. But in any case, I fail to see how this is relevant to … well, to anything. One movie gets a tepid negative review and gets a couple of stars for being harmless, but not good. The other gets a scathing review for being not good and obnoxious in the bargain and gets a half-star. You disagree with the assessment. You’ve made that clear. Dragging in the wholly theoretical longevity of the two titles establishes what exactly?

  51. Ken Hanke

    It might also be worth noting that of the number of posts comprising the comments on this movie, I can only find seven posters — Justin, Tony, wncbob, Steve Shanafelt, Tonberry, Hurted and myself — who have actually seen the movie. I’ve seen no evidence that the other five (unless I’m miscounting, there are only 12 people in this discussion). The discussion has been as much generated by the review and the posts than by the movie itself.

  52. JOHN-C

    Ken, Justin… Sorry guys you missed the boat with this one. I really had a good time watching this movie. You just can’t give this one the same rating as Larry The Cable Guy Health Inspector(Which you did)… Come on!
    A much more complex and conceptual style of comedy here. And please stop over analyzing the slapstick genre… These movies are about setting up cheesy jokes… not plot! Get into the spirit of the movie not the details! MY RATING ***

  53. Ken Hanke

    Well, it’s Justin’s review, but I truly hated this movie.

  54. T_REX

    I HATE HATE HATE HATE THIS MOVIE!!!!

    If you want a “dark” film that has comedy, satire, and a violent overtone please see Natural Born Killers, American Psycho, and King of Comedy.

    As a film lover I am not easily offended or put off by anything but let me say this…..date rape is not funny!

    I can go on and on about how bad this is so I will just stop.

  55. Come_on

    For a one-star rating this review really didn’t have enough overwrought hyperbole. You really came through on the talking-about-what-other-critics-think though. Just playin’ (but come on.)

  56. Ken Hanke

    You really came through on the talking-about-what-other-critics-think though.

    Yeah, I see one whole sentence devoted to that in the review.

  57. Come_on

    “Yeah, I see one whole sentence devoted to that in the review.”

    Again, not as much as usual. Really I found the review to be dismissive in a way that a movie this interesting doesn’t deserve. But everyone has their own opinions. And some of us get to publish them with arbitrary point systems. I give this review three-and-a-half sad clown faces.
    @<:( @<:( @<:( @<

  58. Justin Souther

    For a one-star rating this review really didn’t have enough overwrought hyperbole.

    No hyperbole. I honestly think this movie that awful.

  59. Justin Souther

    You just can’t give this one the same rating as Larry The Cable Guy Health Inspector(Which you did)… Come on!
    A much more complex and conceptual style of comedy here.

    It might just be me, but I see little difference in the complexities of Larry the Cable Guy’s base fart-and-boob-joke shtick and Observe and Report‘s R-rated grotesqueness. Sure, one is supposedly edgier, but neither strikes me as particularly funny, complex or conceptual. Jokes about white trash, date rape and general misanthropy — with a healthy dose of swear words — is just a different side of the same Cable Guy coin. Let’s be honest here, a dick joke is never anything more than a tarted up fart joke.

    Get into the spirit of the movie not the details!

    It’s not really my job — or any audience member’s job — to “get into the spirit of the movie.” The movie is supposed to put me in the spirit of whatever it’s trying to accomplish and Observe and Report never managed to even get close.

  60. Ken Hanke

    Really I found the review to be dismissive in a way that a movie this interesting doesn’t deserve

    One person’s interesting is another person’s crapfest, I guess. I am still waiting for someone to explain how this movie is interesting in any significant way.

    And some of us get to publish them with arbitrary point systems.

    Actually, they’re published for us. There is a difference. And any point system that deals with opinion is essentially arbitrary.

  61. JOHN-C

    It is your job to connect to the spirit of the movie… Sometimes it’s not even about content in a movie it’s the energy of the experience(example Porky’s)… The tried and true keystone cops premise can be very funny. And in this movie we had the dry and witty charm of Seth Rogen playing a fat mall cop! The Jud Apatow style of comedy far exceeds in level of wit and conception the Larry the cable guy flicks…

    One thing about this one I didn’t like was the over use of bad language to get a laugh…

    But I’m really beginning to think Justin that you were the guy in high school that never laughed at the fart jokes in Blazzing Saddles

    And please god don’t tell me that you and Ken didn’t laugh when that poor dog got his testicles frozen to the porch in Joe Dirt! I did and I love to laugh

  62. Justin Souther

    It is your job to connect to the spirit of the movie…

    Not exactly. It’s a movie I found mean-spirited which I’m neither sympathetic towards nor find myself connected with. If you got something else out of it, that’s fine, but all I found was a crude, ugly movie.

    And in this movie we had the dry and witty charm of Seth Rogen playing a fat mall cop!

    Which in my book is nothing to really get excited over. But I’ve never once warmed up to Rogen.

    The Jud Apatow style of comedy far exceeds in level of wit and conception the Larry the cable guy flicks…

    I’m not sure I’d say that Observe and Report even has the same style of humor as Apatow’s films or even the stuff he’s produced. It’s much more nasty in tone, intent and content. And again, I found none of it witty, though I wouldn’t mind an explanation into how this is supposedly “conceptual,” because I’m not seeing it.

    But I’m really beginning to think Justin that you were the guy in high school that never laughed at the fart jokes in Blazzing Saddles

    Actually, in high school, I laughed at my fair share of fart jokes. Unfortunately for fart jokes, I grew out of them.

  63. Ken Hanke

    It is your job to connect to the spirit of the movie…

    Isn’t it more the job of the movie to make me do that?

    The Jud Apatow style of comedy far exceeds in level of wit and conception the Larry the cable guy flicks…

    But aren’t you failing to connect to the spirit of those movies? I wouldn’t actually argue with your statement otherwise, but apart from the presence of Seth Rogen, how exactly does this movie have anything to do with Judd Apatow?

    But I’m really beginning to think Justin that you were the guy in high school that never laughed at the fart jokes in Blazzing Saddles

    No, that was me — only I was out of high school at the time. I like a lot of things about Blazing Saddles, but the campfire scene isn’t one of those things.

    And please god don’t tell me that you and Ken didn’t laugh when that poor dog got his testicles frozen to the porch in Joe Dirt!

    Having successfully blocked Joe Dirt from my mind, I don’t even recall the gag in question.

  64. Come_on

    “And any point system that deals with opinion is essentially arbitrary.”

    So… thanks?
    Listen, I wasn’t aware that the topic of star ratings and your objection to their use at all had been brought up on more than one occasion and quite recently in fact either (sorry), but you should really stop using the star system or stop talking about your objection to it when it best suits your argument. I mean, I don’t know what kind of J.J. Jameson character you’re dealing with at the Xpress offices, but surely something can be done since the two of you so graciously allow them to publish these classy zing-fests.

  65. Ken Hanke

    you should really stop using the star system or stop talking about your objection to it when it best suits your argument.

    I object to them in general, not when it best suits my argument, but they are a fact of life, because certain readers insist on being able to glance at a review and leave it at that. The fact that they are arbitrary — to the degree that they reflect an opinion, which is by definition subjective, even if it’s backed up by reasoning — is simply inescapable.

    I don’t know what kind of J.J. Jameson character you’re dealing with at the Xpress offices, but surely something can be done since the two of you so graciously allow them to publish these classy zing-fests.

    Actually, they pay us to write these reviews — and for that, I’m personally grateful. And they’re the same folks who give you the opportunity to come here and voice your opinion, which is fine, too, but I’m still waiting to hear exactly why this film is so “interesting” that it shouldn’t be dismissed so cavalierly. All I’m hearing is that it is — and criticism over a rating system and over the fact that the reviews often acknowledge the existence of other reviews.

  66. Come_on

    I didn’t think this movie was fantastic or anything but your consistent refusal that it had any merit whatsoever is bordering on ridiculous. I feel like some of us won’t stop posturing long enough to have an actual discussion, but I want to point out some things that Justin keeps harping on that make me think the entire experience went over his head. First of all, I don’t see what was so juvenile about the scenarios. Disturbing and depressing maybe, and maybe even vulgar if you haven’t been desensitized to language or male nudity. But this was such a small part of what was going on. And calm down about the penises. I don’t even really think they were jokes. I mean, if an exposed penis is on screen, you can choose to snicker at it or not.

    “Let’s be honest here, a dick joke is never anything more than a tarted up fart joke.”

    Oh my god what?

    And what does Napoleon Dynamite have to do with any of this? Get some new reference points.

    Who exactly were the rednecks in this movie? Oh ok, white trash. Well if you have a problem with Hill finding humor in these characters, it kind of cuts down your moral high horse to call them white trash. (I should probably tell you, “white trash,” is kind of offensive. It’s like saying that not only are they trash, but they’re white which makes them especially bad and worse than the other kinds of trash. Kind of like saying, “You’re pretty good at sports, for a girl.”) Hill manages to humanize these depressingly real people that we see everyday at the mall or lining up for Transformers while you’ve got nothing but contempt for them. I guess?

  67. JOHN-C

    Ken and Justin keep up the good work… I predominately agree with and enjoy your reviews. Especially you Ken… You truly have a gift! I’m going to end our debate on my end now. I appreciate you guys at least discussing this movie with me! I would like to see you guys be a little more “Less Critical” sometimes(Especially with the comedy genre).

    Here is the Observe And Report review from New York Magazine(which OAR was a “Critic Pick” might I add)

    http://nymag.com/listings/movie/observe-and-report/

    Also OAR got much more favorable ratings on RottenTomatoes.com than the Larry The Cable Guy flick…

    And although I’m sure Mountain X encourages you guys to interact with readers on the forums do you get special bonuses?? just wondering

    And again I appreciate your work!

  68. Ken Hanke

    I didn’t think this movie was fantastic or anything but your consistent refusal that it had any merit whatsoever is bordering on ridiculous.

    Why? I do not see any merit whatsoever in this movie. I found it obnoxious, unpleasant and unfunny.

    Hill manages to humanize these depressingly real people that we see everyday at the mall or lining up for Transformers while you’ve got nothing but contempt for them.

    If anyone is expressing contempt for “these depressingly real people that we see everyday at the mall or lining up for Transformers,” I would say it’s you, since I don’t think that most of the people I see at the mall or lining up for Transformers are mentally ill, sociopathic, alcoholic or otherwise completely delusional. That is pretty much the picture I’m getting from Hill. I don’t call it humanizing.

    You do realize that almost no one is reading this discussion, don’t you? I receive notification when someone posts on one of these old reviews, as does anyone who posted before and didn’t unclick the “notify me of follow-up comments,” but otherwise it’s strictly limited to someone happening to look up a particular title. This one’s had a goosing because it ran at Asheville Pizza and Brewing.

  69. Ken Hanke

    Ken and Justin keep up the good work… I predominately agree with and enjoy your reviews. Especially you Ken… You truly have a gift!

    Thank you, but don’t sell Justin short. After all, I’ve been writing professionally for about 28 years, he’s about 25 years behind me. Also, he does tend to get the crummier assignments.

    I appreciate you guys at least discussing this movie with me!

    Good heavens, why wouldn’t we? I will discuss a movie with anyone who’s taking a civil approach and keeping some sense of perspective.

    I would like to see you guys be a little more “Less Critical” sometimes(Especially with the comedy genre).

    That’s probably not going to happen, largely because it’s ultimately an opinion, a reaction. If I have a strong negative reaction, I’m going to be honest about that reaction. And the same is true of a strong positive reaction, which, by the way, can get you just as much grief as a negative one. I received mail from someone yesterday where the writer “knew” that the only reason I’d liked Whatever Works is because I harbor the fantasy about having some hot teenage girl fall for me. Anyone who actually knows me, would burst out laughing at that accusation.

    Also OAR got much more favorable ratings on RottenTomatoes.com than the Larry The Cable Guy flick…

    I’m aware of that and I’d read Edelstein’s review before — and didn’t agree with a single word of it. I doubt he’d agree with a single word I have to say about the film either. It doesn’t bother me. I doubt it would bother him. It’s a film that’s critically split almost down the middle (51% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), come to that, and assuming dueling critics actually means much. Then again, should I rethink my stance on Whatever Works — which at this point stands a very strong chance of being on the upper half of my 10 Best List for 2009 — because it has a 46% approval rating?

    And although I’m sure Mountain X encourages you guys to interact with readers on the forums do you get special bonuses?? just wondering

    Actually, no one has ever encouraged me to interact with readers. I merely assume that if someone takes the time to comment, I should take the time to respond. But, no, we don’t get bonuses or anything for doing so.

    And again I appreciate your work!

    And again, I thank you.

  70. Come_on

    I know no one is reading this and I figured the critics to be the moderators. I’ll have to agree to disagree because this movie seems pretty polarizing, and Ken, you didn’t even write the review. I actually did catch it at APBC, which is why I came back here to check out the review (SUCH IS MY LOYALTY TO YOU, KEN HANKE), but it was the original half-star rating that deterred me from seeing it in theaters. You guys let me down. Big time. And I’m really not that mad. Just disappointed. Maybe I should give Transformers a shot (I’m not going to.)

  71. Come_on

    And yeah, thanks for talking to readers months after a movie has come out.

  72. Ken Hanke

    I know no one is reading this and I figured the critics to be the moderators.

    Well, we’re not really moderators, but because of other things that I have to do as part of the job, I pass through a section of the site when I log in that tells me what’s been commented on and when. I’m not sure what Justin’s clearance is, but he’d never have the need to be in this part of the site.

    I’ll have to agree to disagree because this movie seems pretty polarizing

    It is that, but that’s not always a bad thing. It’s not just that I’m a contrarian — even though to some degree I am, because except for the Beatles I’m naturally skeptical of anything that “everybody” likes — but if a film interests me and it gets split or even bad reviews, that will sometimes increase my desire to see for myself.

    Ken, you didn’t even write the review

    No, but I saw the movie and the review I would have written wouldn’t have been all that different, except I think the movie angered me more than it did Justin. In that regard, the film may be regarded as a kind of success, since I am rarely angered by movies.

    I actually did catch it at APBC, which is why I came back here to check out the review (SUCH IS MY LOYALTY TO YOU, KEN HANKE)

    Taking that at face-value, I appreciate it.

    but it was the original half-star rating that deterred me from seeing it in theaters. You guys let me down. Big time.

    I always hate hearing that or variations on it, because it is rarely my desire to actually keep someone from watching a movie. I am, however, mindful of the fact that it’s going to happen.

    Maybe I should give Transformers a shot (I’m not going to.)

    I can get you passes to that, but I’d advise against it.

    And yeah, thanks for talking to readers months after a movie has come out.

    I always try to — unless it’s like studio shills pretending to be 12 year olds waxing ecstating over what a great picture I Know Who Killed Me is when the DVD comes out. On certain strange occasions — must be some planetary alignment thing — when several older movies get dragged up on the same day, I sometimes miss one or two, though.

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