Month: February 2010

Observe and Report – A Comedy That Lost It’s Identity

I recently watched “Observe and Report”, the other mall cop movie that came out last year, this one starring Seth Rogen.  I had heard bad things about the movie, but I enjoy goofy comedy and I like Seth Rogen.  With low expectations, I thought I would enjoy the movie.  Not quite, but kind of.

Most of the bad things I had heard about the movie centered on it’s ending and how dark and out of place it is.  Seth Rogen and the writer/director were quick to defend the movie, stating that the ending makes more sense if people had realized that “Observe and Report” is a dark comedy and not a silly comedy like Rogen’s other films.  After now having seen the movie, I can’t say that I agree with them.  “Observe and Report” is a silly comedy that has a lead character that should be in a dark comedy.

Honestly, Seth Rogen’s character is straight out of a dark comedy.  He’s tortured and tragic, barely coping with bi-polar disorder, an alcoholic mother, and a father that left before he was born.  Yes, he occasionally does something silly, reminiscent of the characters in his other movies, but in the end he is playing a deeply troubled and struggling individual.

Where everything falls apart is the characters around Seth Rogen.  They are all crazy silly just like the supporting cast in all of his other movies.  The other security guards that he manages are all incompetent fools.  The woman he likes is a stereotypical, airhead blonde.  The real cops are always pulling pranks on him.  The mall patrons are nutty.  There’s an over-the-top homosexual character.  His mother, while very alcoholic, is a very comedic alcoholic.  The greatly tragic character that Seth Rogen is playing is almost completely lost and buried beneath a supporting cast that is straight out of “Knocked Up” or “Superbad”.

I think that is why the shocking, dark ending is so shocking.  It’s a dark comedy that is not dark at all.  When it finally takes on that dark tone, it’s out of place.  And then it doesn’t even stay in that dark place.  In a matter of minutes, the supporting cast shows up, acts wacky, and the moment is lost.  I can see how this uncomfortable ending, combined with a Seth Rogen comedy that isn’t nearly as funny as other Seth Rogen comedies, had most viewers disappointed.

Sadly, I think the writer had a great concept in his mind when he started writing it.  Seth’s character is complex and tragic and would have made a much better story if it wasn’t for all the zany antics going on around him.  I hope the suits in Hollywood give him another chance to write and direct a movie.  I think he could put together a fine goofball comedy or dark comedy, just not a fine goofball, dark comedy.