Observe and Report is a kind-of-interesting film with a confused ending – initially, I wanted to think it was in reference to Taxi Driver’s ironic cap-off, but this is too sudden. If it’s supposed to be a fantasy, then I suppose that might work, but there’s no indication of this beforehand – the main character is taking his medication again, we’re told.
Although, it doesn’t help that there are several moments throughout the film just like it – Ronnie does an amazing impression of Nite Owl in Zach Snyder’s Watchmen in one scene, breaking arms and cracking the faces of several drug-dealers – one played by Danny McBride himself from Jody Hill’s previous low-budget work, The Foot Fist Way. And, there’s the problem, I think – this is a film that, in stark contrast with the total lack of comeuppance for that character from that film, can’t help but want to see this character succeed, even as we’re told numerous times throughout that this guy’s amazingly close to insane, and that he’s pretty reprehensible, and so on. So, when everything does just begin to cascade upward literally five minutes before the end of the film, it feels – wrong, because that reduces to nil everything that’s come before.
For the sake of either humor or just moving the plot along so that something that needs to happen later on can occur – and, I’m reticent to say that kind of thing, but there’s really no other way to explain some of the things that happen in this film – the characters just seem to lose all sense of foresight; not just Ronnie, but his are the most egregious examples. I don’t care how severe his case of bipolar may be, and in fact even because of that, nobody would knowingly give their entire bottle of medication away to a woman, no matter how Anna Friel she might be.
I’m also a little confused – in the scene immediately after the one I’d mentioned in the last paragraph, with the arm-breaking, Ronnie mentions that he’s “got four dead crack-dealers” to back him up – but, the film never follows up on this, nor on how Ronnie gets out of jail so quickly after his final confrontation with the police, later on. Is that really something that would be fixed with a quick paying of bail? That’s another thing – there’s never any real consequence for any of Ronnie’s actions, beyond a mention of ‘the manager’s thinking about calling the cops,’ and being refused entry into the police academy.
But, luckily – you know what the film does have for us? Old man-penis. Entire screen-fulls of it, and it’s entirely superfluous. It’s just there to get a reaction from us the audience, as are a great many other things, herein.
I started out this piece with the thought process of ‘well, the film was mildly entertaining,’ and all of that, but as I went on, I began to realize there really isn’t much here to like, aside from Rogen’s performance. There’s nothing really formally interesting about the film, and Hill’s lost whatever things he could have said to have constituted his style since The Foot Fist Way – there’s his mean streak that everyone talks about, but even that’s been watered down considerably; I can’t say I saw as much in The Foot Fist Way as everyone else did, but it was certainly abrasive, to a ‘T’. That much it could call it’s own. This film is, essentially, the same formula – except of a weaker blend. It’s not a cohesive character study, because nobody – and especially Ronnie – acts rationally in a storytelling sense, and just when things really are beginning to get interesting, Hill pulls us back in the most awkward way possible. It doesn’t really work, nor does it attain the type of reaction that Hill really, really seems to want it to, if only because – well, we’ve covered this.