Unsatisfying security

Observe and Report features Seth Rogen as a mall cop who is in better shape than most police officers and crazier than all of them. Almost as if it was usurped straight out of a Scorsese film, Seth Rogen’s character Ronnie Barnhardt is a sociopath who demands to be accepted by his peers and fellow enforcers of the law on the police force. Unfortunately for him, he will forever be subject to their ridicule due to the fact that he is a mall security guard who takes his job way too seriously.

Written and directed by Jody Hill, Observe and Report begins with the first instance of a flasher who is exposing himself in the mall parking lot. This sparks an investigation headed by Barnhardt until the police intervene. Barnhardt appears to hate the police force, but it seems it might simply be because he is not on it. Ray Liotta plays the slightly villainous detective who seeks to mock and disrespect Barnhardt at any opportunity.

Liotta and Rogen create an ironically dynamic pair within the film, allowing their scenes together to be unexpectedly funny. Rogen’s abilities as an action hero are also on display throughout the film as he believably overpowers dozens of people with precision. The film even finds time to parody the heroic monologue voice-over while a montage of training scenes plays, a technique often utilized within action movies.

Through a series of ridiculous schemes, involving undercover work, firearms and narcotics, it becomes obvious that Rogen’s character is in way over his head at his job, in his attempts to solve crime, and in his life. As an anchor and a source of strength, his drunken yet caring mother, played by Celia Weston is incredibly amusing and simultaneously repulsing. In another hilariously entertaining performance, Anna Faris once again plays stupid so well that it is almost too convincing. Surprisingly, Michael Pena also delivers a scene stealing performance as Barnhardt’s Hispanic sidekick with a speech impediment.

Pena’s charisma and commitment to his character, Dennis, are quite visible on screen as he pushes his own comedic limits farther than he has as an actor in the past.

Overall, the film is both funny and entertaining, but fails to meet expectations as far as exactly how funny and entertaining it could have been based on what was seen in the trailers. Rogen delivers a very different and very wonderful performance, but it is not enough to make this film as great as it should be.

The signs of the obviously squandered potential that was within the script and cast of Observe and Report leave the audience slightly disheartened and wanting more.