Page 18 THE VILLADOM TIMES I & III • April 22, 2009
‘Observe and Report’ falls short on comic punch
Ronnie despite myriad challenges. And, of course, there’s that on-the-loose flasher, who returns as part of the movie’s loopy climactic scene. Liotta is well cast as a cop, increasingly annoyed by Ronnie’s arrogance and interference. He has played this kind of role many times before and it’s a comfortable fit. Unfortunately, writer/director Jody Hill doesn’t milk many jokes from Liotta’s character, which might have made the quasi-cop/real-cop conflict sparkle more, comically. Weston is the one redeeming aspect of this picture. This marvelous character actress has appeared in numerous independent and mainstream films. Hers is a familiar face and she always delivers the goods. Here, in an otherwise thankless project, she adeptly conveys both humor and empathy. With a low-key delivery, she tosses out zingers not with machine-gun rapidity, but with tender, quiet musings about her failure to be the best mom she could have been. She makes no apology for her drinking, and makes clear to Ronnie that he has been a major contributing factor to her alcohol dependence. During the 1930s and 1940s the studios
Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) and his Mom (Celia Weston) share a tender moment in ‘Observe and Report.’
by Dennis Seuling You realize how good Judd Apatow is when you see an R-rated comedy directed by someone else. “Observe and Report” stars frequent Apatow leading man Seth Rogen as Ronnie Barnhardt, head of security at the Forest Ridge Mall. Ronnie relishes his role as protector of life, limb, and morals of mall employees and customers. Lately, a flasher has been making sporadic appearances, scandalizing shoppers. Ronnie determines to get his man, and is resentful when the police, headed by Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta), interfere with his investigation.
The film scatter-shoots episodic morsels, with little cohesion other than that Ronnie is an unsympathetic sad sack throughout who pines for cosmetics counter girl and mall slut Brandi (Anna Faris). His secondin-command, Dennis (Michael Pena), turns out to have a larcenous streak. There is ongoing conflict between a coffee counter manager and his new employee, Nell (Collette Wolfe). Ronnie and fellow security guards are shown gleefully shooting assault weapons at a firing range and bemoaning the fact that they aren’t issued such weapons at the mall. The audience also meets Ronnie’s slovenly boozer of a mother (Celia Weston), who has done her best to raise
had scores of recognizable character actors. Weston carries on that legacy. She enhances any project in which she appears. “Observe and Report” meanders aimlessly, showing Ronnie’s life on the job, at home, on a date, and attempting to further his career. The R rating is mostly for excessive, repetitive profane language, which is supposed to be funny, but isn’t. The movie has a laid back quality, which is odd for a comedy and slows down what should be a peppy pace. At only 86 minutes, it still looks like an unedited final cut. Noticeable pauses after dialogue is delivered (maybe for audience laughs that never happen) and a laconic performance by Rogen make for dead spots. There is little to recommend this movie. An opening day audience was unusually silent for a comedy film. There was more laughter for the coming attractions than for the feature film. Dialogue is mundane, performances (with the exception of Liotta and Weston’s) are flat, and much of the action is predictable. As broad as they were, the Abbott and Costello comedies packed more comic punch and knew how to showcase and get laughs from the kind of character played by Rogen.
Mozart classic gets modern twist
Mozart’s classic opera, “Cosi fan Tutte,” features three men, three women, a little fiancé-swapping, and a wedding, but who’s marrying whom? Mozart does not provide the answer, so Producer Gina Crusco, a Midland Park High School graduate, is asking the audience to vote on the ending to this updated, abridged, interactive opera. Be sure to bring your cell phone to this performance, which is sung in Italian, with English and Spanish supertitles. Performances will be April 29 and 30 at 7:30 p.m. at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Peter Norton Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, New York City. Tickets are $30, $20 reserved, and $15 for members, students, seniors, and group members. Tickets will be available at the Symphony Space Box Office Tuesday through Sunday from noon until 6 p.m., in person or by telephone, (212) 864-5400. Tickets are also available by leaving your name and the number of tickets desired at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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