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Observe and Report (2009) Print E-mail
Friday, 25 September 2009
Image"Observe and Report" came and went without drawing much attention.  It feels like one of those independent films that was made into a motion picture and released in theaters.  The film just about broke even with the budget, but still managed to stay in theaters for two solid months.  I guess they were hoping for a late draw.

The film is weird to say in the least.  I could tell from the get go that it is not going to be a film that everyone loves.  It only has a hold on a very specific group of viewers.  Put is this way, if you liked "Hot Fuzz" then you are going to like this film.  In fact, "Observe and Report" is very much like an Americanized version of "Hot Fuzz."

Seth Rogen, best known for his roles in Judd Apatow productions, stars in this film as the head security office for a little town mall.  He is his same self in all of his movies.  His character here is much like that in "Knocked Up," just a little bit more serious.  His humor is admirable for the first third or half of the film and then it just starts to wear thin.  That is the issue with this film; as an audience we keep waiting for the film to introduce something that is a major plot.  But it never comes.  The film just goes on and on without much in the way of self discovery or plot.

Rogen's character, Ronnie, acts like a big tough mall cop.  He has a few of the most dimwitted characters as his deputies.  When the mall gets a habitual flasher in the parking lot, Ronnie takes it upon himself to capture the pervert and make a name for himself.  The real cops have been called in, but Ronnie refuses to let them run the show.  Ronnie is brutal, always talking about murdering and shooting people.

When Ronnie is put down by the lead detective on the case (Ray Liotta), he decides to apply for joining the police academy.  It is evident that Ronnie will never pass the psychological exam and the filmmakers hope that the audience will just miraculously care about Ronnie that we are rooting for him.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Anna Faris also stars in the film as a cosmetics counter girl at the mall who Ronnie is deeply "in love with."  Faris is cute and all, but her ditzy blonde characters are getting rather tiresome.

Sure the film has some funny moments, but as you watch the film you feel like you are going in circles, always ending back where you started.  The filmmakers try and introduce genuine character lines but fail to really capture the audience's attention.  The ending is quite a bit overly dramatic, which is tantamount to the rest of the film.
Jody Hill is the writer and director of the film.  It is evident that he doesn't really have any prior experience to speak of.  He has about two other little known credits to her name.  Still, with more experience Hill has a promising career.  Sadly, though, "Observe and Report" is not going to be his breakthrough directorial.

Despite the film's independent-like feel, the transfer of the film is quite pleasing.  I was caught off guard because usually comedies like this don't have a striking video presentation.  Luckily for us, the video is sharp and eye catching.  The colors are bold and natural.  The contrast levels are also natural, helping to keep the colors under control.  The black levels are rich, with only the occasional crushing occurring.  Fleshtones are natural, with again the exception of a few sequences.  Details are impressive for a comedy like this.  They sometimes disappear.  The same goes for textures.  For the most they are highly detailed, but can also fall flat.  While the image is vibrant, it does not a have a lot of dimensionality.  There is no digital artifacting, including banding or aliasing.  Grain is very slight and as to be expected the source print is in great condition.  I did notice a scratch or two and a flick of dust here and there.  Overall, I would have to say this is a more than adequate transfer that is just missing some stability and that extra polish.

As with the video, the audio presentation is hefty.  Warner has given us a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track that delights.  The most noticeable aspect of this track is the weight of each of the elements.  The sound effects are given priority during all the right sequences.  And for the most part, the dialogue is well prioritized as well.  Occasionally the dialogue loses out to music and effects.  The LFE channel is simply amazing when it is used.  It is stunning during the firing range sequence.  I have never heard such powerful gunfire.  The clarity of the track is very good.  The rear channels are nearly empty.  There is some light ambience in the rears and occasionally a panned sound effect.  I would have liked a more aggressive surround experience.  Dynamic range is constant, but does peak when necessary.  Frequency response is wide, but finds itself leaning toward the midrange for most everything.  Again, this track is better than I would have expected for a comedy.

Warner has tried to create a Blu-ray disc with a nice bonus materials package.  And while there are Blu-ray exclusives, the content is nothing special.  First there is a picture-in-picture commentary track with Jody Hill, Seth Rogen and Anna Faris.  The track is informative in terms of production information.  However, it is worthless picture-in-picture track.  There is no activity.  Could very well have been an audio commentary.  Also exclusive to the Blu-ray is "Forest Ridge Mall: Security Recruitment Video" is useless.  "Seth Rogen and Anna Faris: Unscripted" is a collection of outtakes.  There is also a collection of deleted scenes, and a gag reel.  Other features are promised using the BD-Live functionality.  The package also comes with a Digital Copy of the film.

"Observe and Report" is commendable, but ultimately the comedy gives tiresome.  The lack of any real type of plot is also disappointing.  However, the audio and video quality is very generous.  I would recommend giving this one a try if you are any type of comedy film fan and certainly if you are a fan of Seth Rogen humor.

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