Posted By: Coco Buchanan
[This review contains spoilers]
I really wasn’t sure what to expect going into Observe and Report. I knew the director, Jody Hill, had something to do with Eastbound and Down, which what little I’ve seen, I think is hilarious. Certainly, I did not expect a Seth Rogen comedy to be so dark….or deeply disturbing.
Don’t get me wrong, there were some funny moments, plus the fact that Hill’s playing around with realities was interesting, fairly unique, and a bit more sophisticated than what I was expecting. But overall, the whole thing didn’t gel for me, and in the end, I was left feeling disgusted with the humanity portrayed on the screen as well as the brand I witnessed in the theatre itself.
I “get” that Rogen’s character is supposed to not be likeable. And according to Hill’s latest interview with the AV Club, he’s clearly very concerned with pushing the envelope. Here, Hill responds to a controversial scene in the film, where Rogen’s character essentially date rapes a character played by Anna Faris.:
I dunno. I’ve always kind of liked scenes that you talk about how fucked-up they are. I would have been happy without any dialogue in that scene. I wanted to show them just having sex and her passed out, and I thought that would have been funnier. But I think I have a darker sense of humor than most people. So at the end, [Faris’ character] is okay with it. [Laughs.] And that was like, “I’ll shoot it both ways.” So I actually shot it both ways. I just kept the camera rolling. There’s like a line that’s “We’re okay laughing, and you’re pushing the envelope.” But you’re not really pushing the envelope until you cross that line where a lot of people don’t go along with you. I tried to do it in a few scenes in this movie, where a lot of people aren’t going to go along with the film or with what we’re trying to do. Hopefully that means we’re actually pushing the envelope. [Laughs.] You know what I mean by that? I think if you’re really pushing the envelope, you have to not include everybody, if that makes sense. Or else it’s not really pushing the envelope.
Though there are a lot of excruciatingly insane things wrong with this statement, I really have to wonder—what the fuck is he pushing the envelope FOR? What is his point? What’s the point of pushing the envelope if you don’t appear to have anything to say? Not to mention why the fuck he thinks it would’ve been funnier without Faris’s character’s consent? Why is pushing the envelope a goal in and of itself?
Hill claims to be inspired by/takes his cues from films like Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, and novels like A Catcher in the Rye, explaining his interest in jaded, angry, outsider male characters. Here’s the thing, though…..none of those things are comedies. I mean, I get that it’s really, really hard to do a dark comedy. Death To Smoochy, though, is an example of a dark comedy done well (though, clearly, not everyone thought so), that still pushed the envelope, didn’t walk on eggshells, etc. But, honestly, what is Observe and Report accomplishing exactly? So that the degenerate ticking time-bombs in the audience creepily chuckling at every over-the-top violent, racist, misogynistic scene could have their borderline-sociopathic desires legitimized?
Taxi Driver is THE classic example of a movie with a cult following of assholes who misunderstand what the movie is about, and instead, idolize the main character…because those people are PIECES OF SHIT. Observe and Report doesn’t even have the benefit of being good movie as a whole on any level, really. Sure, it may get people “talking”… but does it really challenge them to be critical about themselves and dominant cultural values? It doesn’t have to be a heavy-handed thing, but, do assholes REALLY need another reason to be assholes?