104) Observe & Report (2009) Dir: Jody Hill Date Released: April 2009 Date Seen: April 14th, 2009 Rating: 3.5/5
There’s very little that I feel hasn’t by now already been overstated about the obnoxious and fairly self-evident psychology of violent delusions in Jody Hill’s Observe & Report so I’ll keep this brief. The infantilization of Travis Bickle's paranoiac power fantasies in Ronnie (Seth Rogen) the rent-a-cop is unbearably heavy-handed up until the film's final 20-30 minutes. At this point, the shit hits the fan so hard and fast that I rapidly became willing to be didactically alienated in exchange for a few long, good, ragged gasps of terrified laughter.
It should be said though that Hill is not Cronenberg and this isn’t A History of Violence (2005) and that’s a very good thing. By the film’s explosive finish, you can’t forget that you’re being lecture but you can feel thrilled about being so debased. I’m going to have to go with the wave of wary approval the film has earned and say: yes, O&R's crudely but effectively subversive explosions of violence work because they’re buttressed by meager but satisfying amateur psychology and a few very good supporting performances by Anna Faris and Michael Pena. And a wicked sense of humor; that helps a lot.