Friday, July 3, 2009
Observe and Review
Observe and Report is a dark, black comedy that rings with Taxi Driver references from the opening scene. And that film's influence on this one is undeniable. Ronnie Barnhardt is a disturbed, delusional character who communicates in voice over, is overly aggressive and socially retarded. He is confused with his role in the world and his actions are fueled by selfishness and his own insecurities. But, by the end of the movie, miraculously, he is the hero.
It's funny, though. It's damn funny, if you can laugh at heavy drug abuse, extreme violence and date rape. The movie explores a side of the psyche in which a seemingly normal individual decides by any means necessary to do what he believes is the right thing. His heart is in the right place, but his methods are criminal and borderline psychotic. Whether it's conning Anna Faris into a date with him, accusing the Middle Eastern mall employee of terrorizing the mall or beating Patton Oswalt senseless against an oven, he is trying to fit into what society has taught him is a hero, someone who helps those that cannot help themselves.
I have read that many people were taken aback by the shocking nature of some of the scenes and preferred their cuddly, charming Seth Rogen who merely smokes pot and knocks up pretty girls. I liked that they made such an audacious film, particularly coming from Warner Bros. and Legendary Studios, who made this picture during the enormous success of their last picture, The Dark Knight. In many ways, it is a similar film where the protagonist is an unstable vigilante who administers his own brand of justice with a disregard for the proper authorities. By the end however, while Batman is on the run as an outcast, Ronnie has gained acceptance and fame as a hero for bringing the bad guy down. It's a movie that asks the question, where is the line and why do people cross it? Ronnie has only pure intentions and good motivations, but the results of his action have disasterous consequences. What is the right thing to do? I don't have the answer and neither does the movie.
Michael Pena steals the show with his Mike Tyson impression.