‘Observe and Report:’ What Mall Cop Movies Should Be
by Emilia Dellemonico


I went into the theater not knowing what to expect from a movie that involved mall security.  “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” released earlier this year, seemed just as colorless and generic as the setting it takes place in. However, the comedic talent of Kevin James and the intriguing previews piqued my curiosity enough to give this movie a shot and fortunately, I was not disappointed. For some reason, the formula of a shopping mall’s stale environment and psychologically defunct security guards proves to be a hit with audiences. Whereas “Paul Blart” was a squeaky clean family movie, “Observe and Report” earns its R-rating, with its rampant drug use, violence, twisted characters, and of course plenty of nudity.

In “Observe and Report,” the story centers around head security guard, Ronnie Bernhardt, played by Seth Rogan (“40 Year Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up,” and “Pineapple Express”). In his attempts to catch the eye of a shallow makeup counter attendant, played by Anna Faris, he becomes determined to prove his worth as a security guard.  He begins by working to apprehend a wanted exhibitionist in the mall parking lot, and later tries to become a police officer. With his ability to shoot targets and beat up gangs of drug dealers, Ronnie is a person most of us would not want to be friends with in real life  — but can’t help but find fascinating on-screen.
The storyline itself provides ample opportunity for quick and effective comedic jabs, but the real art in this film comes from the characters; the movie never completely removes all of the darkness from the funny. Many points of the plot start off as innocent setup, but the abrupt turnarounds shock the audience. While Ronnie’s need to prove himself initially seems harmless, it becomes apparent just how twisted his perception of the world really is. After he stops taking his “pills,” the whole feel of the movie starts to change. It dives into a world where justice is swift and often violent. Rampant scenes of shocking amounts of drug use and physical violence leave you wondering how these security guards weren’t fired and taken to court long before the finale.
While some people will laugh at the scenes showing what two drugged up security guards are willing to do to a bunch of unsuspecting mall patrons, others may find these scenes too political to be humorous. If you aren’t the type to find base behaviors and attitudes funny, you probably shouldn’t see this movie period. This movie thrives on the least appealing qualities of a variety of people; from the shallowness of the makeup girl, to the delusional sense of power Ronnie feels he harnesses.
“Observe and Report” is much better than “Paul Blart” at handling a plot revolving around mall cops. Though “Observe” often reveals the darker sides of people that seem normal at first, it still manages to capture a lot of humor in between, something that “Paul Blart” couldn’t even do.