Observe and Report



Dark, disturbing comedy is for adults only.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: April 9, 2009
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 82 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite the slapstick and profanity, this is a disquieting, darkly complex story about a character that we're never sure we should be rooting for. Ronnie (who has bipolar disorder) may be the protagonist, but he's hardly a hero -- he commits violent, brutal acts and is rewarded for them. Characters are also stereotyped (Ronnie suspects an immigrant vendor of being a terrorist based solely on the color of his skin, for example), and there aren't really any positive messages for viewers of any age.


Brutal, unapologetic violence. People are beaten (one by police) and Tasered; skateboarders are beaten with their own skateboards; characters have rough fistfights. A character uses a flashlight as a weapon. Guns are used -- in one case at point-blank range, with the bloody wound prominently shown.


Characters have sex while one of them is pass-out drunk; her consent is the "punchline," but it's still a deeply disquieting moment. There's also a long scene with full-frontal male nudity in which a flasher is pursued in slow-motion. Two characters have sex in the back of a car. Women are ogled.


Extensive, constant, and strong, including "f--k," "motherf---er," "s--t," "p---y," "ass," "balls," "dick," "c--k," "piss," "goddamn," "oh my God," and much more.


The movie is set in a mall, so there's some contextual mention of real-life brands.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink to excess (sometimes until they vomit) and mix their alcohol with illicit prescription drugs; characters also smoke pot and use cocaine. One character is an alcoholic, and a supporting character shoots up heroin. One character's extreme inebriation precedes an uncomfortable sex scene in which the matter of her consent is unclear.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while this dark, disturbing comedy may be funny, it's very different from star Seth Rogen's other R-rated raunchfests. It has all of the language, strong sexual content (including full-frontal male nudity), drinking, and drug use of Judd Apatow-style comedies but doesn't have any of their underlying heart. Plus, it has some scenes of brutal violence and a sex scene in which the main female character is so drunk that the encounter could easily be seen as an assault. While mature teens and grown-ups will likely understand that the main character isn't being presented as a hero, it's still not appropriate for young people.

What's the story?

The Forest Ridge Mall offers shoppers a pleaseant place to spend their money and their time -- all under the watchful eye of Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen), the mall's head of security. But when a flasher invades the mall's paradise, Ronnie takes it upon himself to get the offender before the police (headed by Ray Liotta) do, all the better to win the heart of his cosmetics counter dream girl Brandi (Anna Faris). Is this challenge what Ronnie needs to change his life -- or is it just the start of more problems?

Is it any good?


Written and directed by Jody Hill, Observe and Report is a comedy that goes far, far over the edge, but Hill's headlong plunge into dark, disturbing comedic territory is somehow sure-footed enough to keep him from stumbling too badly. Some viewers will see the film as a cold, clear-eyed satire of Ronnie's character, while others may see it as a celebration of his character -- which is, one hopes, not the point.

Rogen's work as Ronnnie is strong and deeper than you'd think; Ronnie's a fool and a weakling, but he occasionally has flashes of decency, and Rogen captures Ronnie's struggle toward goodness with the befuddled look of a dumb, loyal dog. Observe and Report is decidedly not for kids (try Paul Blart: Mall Cop instead...or don't), but grown-ups with a taste for the bizarre and bleak will find it as haunting as it is hilarious.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie links violence and comedy. Why are some of the violent scenes funny? Do you think everyone would find them funny? What's the impact of seeing violent images in the media? Families can also discuss how the movie portrays the drunken sex scene. How did that scene make you feel? Do you think moments like that should be treated as comedy? How is this movie different from Seth Rogen's other films? Which do you like better?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 10, 2009
DVD release date:September 22, 2009
Cast:Anna Faris, Ray Liotta, Seth Rogen
Director:Jody Hill
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:82 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence

This review of Observe and Report was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written bymasonlackey January 15, 2011

all around insane

like i said all around insane and its dark humor will catch your eye just hope it doesnt catch your kids eye because in my mind thats robbing their childhood 5 STARS EASY!!!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 10 years old July 31, 2010

a very funny movie but not for kids

a very funny movie. lots of strong and frequent language with lots of f-words around 20-30 s-words mabye less one c**k d**k is used a few times and other things much milder than this. two strong but short sex scenes. strong nudity and can be disturbing. a medium amount of violence and comidic violence including... a man has his head hit agenst an oven thing,the main charater beats up a group of police with a flashlight then he is hit with batons and a sign,a teen is hit in the head with a skateboard,a man is tasered and the most violentest thing a man is shot in the shoulder and blood coveres the entire floor he doest die but he is seen later with blood all over his body. the main charater has a mother thats always drunk everytime shes in the movie she faints once. a woman vomits because she is drunk. not for kids!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent Written byZhash December 15, 2012

Only a few funny parts.

Rated R for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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