A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 dark 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
- In theaters: April 10, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: September 22, 2009
- Cast: Anna Faris, Ray Liotta, Seth Rogen
- Director: Jody Hill
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 82 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence
- Last updated: June 15, 2020
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