Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A naïve and rage-filled man date rapes a girl so schnockered that she doesn’t realize the vomit on her blouse is her own. He pounds away at her until he notices that she has passed out, at which point she yells, “Whyayoostoppin’ moothurfucka!”
See, she’s such a megaslut that she likes being raped. Besides, she’s a white-trash blonde, so she pretty much had it coming. Plus, she was wearing a pretty short skirt. Isn’t objectifying women hilarious?
If the above sounds like comedy gold to you, by all means, go see Seth Rogen’s latest comedy, “Observe and Report.” And then, please go get a vasectomy.
“Observe and Report” would like to be a vicious, dark comedy about an unstable man’s downward spiral into paranoia, violence and murder: A sort of frat-boy rendition of Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.” Sadly, it appears that no one involved with the production had the intelligence, restraint or sense of humor to make this twisted concept play.
Writer/director Jody Hill appears to have only one gag in his head. The set up: A goofy-looking buffoon makes outrageous claims that speak to a deep sense of delusion. Punch line: The weirdo proves to be everything he claimed and more. This is the skeleton of pretty much every scene in the film. The tough guy is actually weak. The best friend is actually a total creep with a severe drug problem. The drunk girl wants to get raped. And so on.
Again, if this type of broad-as-the-side-of-a-barn humor speaks to you, this movie might seem like the Second Coming. But, if you expect a little wit with your obvious irony, you would best be served seeing just about any other movie in general release.
Not the least of the film’s problems is casting. Rogen does an admirable job as the lead but never manages to make the role his own. As several other reviews have noted, this film feels more like a vehicle for frequent Hill-collaborator Danny McBride (“Eastbound and Down,” “The Foot Fist Way”). Also, Ray Liotta is painful to watch as a police detective who feels as if he has escaped from an entirely different film. Only the ever-brilliant Anna Faris (“Scary Movie,” “Smiley Face”) really hits home with her inspired – and collagen-injection-aided – performance as the aforementioned dumb blonde.
And the misogyny doesn’t stop with the “hilarious” date rape set piece. The film goes further. There are only two eligible women in Rogen’s life, uberslut Faris and a plucky young redhead with a leg cast and a promise ring. This is either genius-level satire of the Madonna-Whore Complex present in so many American films or a shockingly shallow reading of women.
There will no doubt be staunch defenders of this film who will take issue with my characterization of the “love scene,” so I will let Rogen’s comments to the Washington City Paper say all that needs to be said on this issue.
“When we’re having sex and she’s unconscious, like, you can literally feel the audience thinking, like, how the fuck are they going to make this okay? Like, what can possibly be said or done that I’m not going to walk out of the movie theater in the next 30 seconds? And then she says, like, the one thing that makes it all okay.”