Dark comedies are usually a tough sell for general audiences because often times they force the audiences to laugh at aspects of life that might cause the normal crowd to cringe. When done right, the audiences end up allowing themselves to revel in others’ disparity i.e. “Bad Santa” or “Little Miss Sunshine” but if done incorrectly the audience is alienated and turned off i.e. “Death to Smoochy”.
Make no mistake, in Seth Rogen’s new film “Observe and Report” is a dark comedy.
“Observe and Report” from writer-director Jody Hill (“The Foot Fist Way” HBO’s “Eastbound and Down”) is basically a comedic take on “Taxi Driver” where Rogen’s Ronnie Barnhardt is a mall cop who has delusions of grandeur. He longs to be a real cop and sees his opportunity when a flasher runs rampant through the mall parking lot and he happens to flash Anna Faris’ (“The House Bunny” “Waiting”) Brandi, who works at the makeup counter and is the object of Rogen’s affections.
Ronnie is in love with Brandi and ignores the fact that she is a drunk, a pill popper, and generally a brain- dead mess. Ronnie is determined to catch this flasher but has to contend with Ray Liotta’s (“Goodfellas”) Detective Harrison who is the person Ronnie longs to be. The two clash with hilarious results.
Unlike January’s “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”, “Observe and Report” skips the prat falls and cheap jokes. Instead it basks in trying to make the audience as uncomfortable as possible. In one scene Ronnie takes Brandi on a date and she has too much to drink and passes out once Ronnie takes her home, and instead of Ronnie just dropping her off at home and making sure she gets inside, he decides to take advantage of her. Other scenes involve Ronnie talking with his alcoholic mother and Ronnie being happy when his mother’s recovery plan is to go from Vodka to just beer.
If these scenes don’t appear all that humorous to you, then you’re going to be better off skipping this film altogether.
For the dark comedy lover, however, they end up working because of the amazing work of the entire cast. Seth Rogen proves that he can play a complete jerk with no redeeming qualities and have audiences laughing. Anna Faris continues to be the best comedic actress in film today, Ray Liotta brings all of his scumbag bravado to his Detective Harris, and Michael Pena (“Crash” “World Trade Center”) has a blast playing Rogen’s partner who is also a psychotic mess.
“Observe and Report” is the most daring comedy of the year so far. It will prove to be difficult for sensitive audiences but fans of dark and off beat humor will not be disappointed.