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A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Observe and Report [Blu-ray]

 

(Jody Hill, 2009)

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Production:

Theatrical: Legendary Pictures & De Line Pictures

Video: Warner Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: ALL (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:26:18.631

Disc Size: 21,772,286,843 bytes

Feature Size: 18,522,482,688 bytes

Average Bitrate: 20.06 Mbps

Chapters: 24

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 22nd, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Audio:

Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1488 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1488 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Plus Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, none

 

Extras

• Meeting-Of-The-Mall-Minds PIP Commentary with Seth Rogen, Anna Faris & Jody Hill
• Basically Training - in HD (6:48)
• Forest Ridge Mall: Security Recruitment Video - in HD (3:01)
• Seth Rogen & Anna Faris: Unscripted - in HD (7:38)
• Additional Scenes - in HD (27:11)
• Gag Reel - in HD (12:17)
• Digital Copy Disc

 

 

Synopsis:

At the Forest Ridge Mall, head of security Ronnie Barnhardt patrols his jurisdiction with an iron fist, combating skateboarders, shoplifters and the occasional unruly customer while dreaming of the day when he can swap his flashlight for a badge and a gun. His delusions of grandeur are put to the test when the mall is struck by a flasher. Driven to protect and serve the mall and its patrons, Ronnie seizes the opportunity to showcase his underappreciated law enforcement talents on a grand scale, hoping his solution of this crime will earn a coveted spot at the police academy and the heart of his elusive dream girl Brandi, the hot make-up counter clerk who won't give him the time of day. But his single-minded pursuit of glory launches a turf war with the equally competitive Detective Harrison of the Conway Police, and Ronnie is confronted with the challenge of not only catching the flasher, but getting him before the real cops do.

 

Comment:

The Movie:
Tragic or comic, we see ourselves as the hero of our lives. It's true for you and it's true for me, and it's certainly the case with Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen), the lead Security guard at the Forest Ridge shopping mall. Ronnie suffers from a number of delusions: He thinks chicks dig him. He believes he is owed respect from everyone even when he pisses in their face, which is just about all the time. He confuses anger with entitlement. And he believes he is BiPolar, for which he takes Clorazapam (aka: Klonopin), a very spurious treatment for same in the first place. His true diagnosis, by the way, can be found on a very different page of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders: Asshole. Or, if you prefer: Travis Bickle, but not nearly as personable.

Yet there is another side to Ronnie : He thinks he takes his job seriously (which is more than I can say of the actor who plays him most of the time). And this is the funny part, since it is a cliché that if you can't teach phys ed, you can always be a security guard at a shopping mall. In short: what's there to take seriously? Ronnie's enough of a bully to convince those other security guards, Dennis (a scene-stealing Michael Peña), and John & Matt Yuen (played by the twins, John & Matt Yuan - very droll) to take their jobs seriously, too. And what is their number one mission: to apprehend the parking lot flasher who has been terrorizing unsuspecting female shoppers and staff for the past several days.

Ronnie lives with his drunk-out-of-her-skull mother (Celia Weston) – think Mr. Joyboy's mother on booze instead of food, and who always has an inappropriate phrase of support for her son. And Ronnie pines for the busty cosmetics salesgirl, Brandi (Anna Faris), who alternates between controlled and uncontrolled hysteria, except when she coked-out-of-her-skull, in which case she alternates between controlled and uncontrolled nymphomania.

At the far end of the mall rests – pretty much on one leg – the one person in this farce with a shred of humanity, Miss Coffee, or "Nell" as most people call her (Collette Wolfe). She always has a kind word for Ronnie despite his relentless spitting in her coffee - metaphorically speaking, of course. My cousin, the attorney, says Writer/Director Jody Hill sums up the male/female puzzle just about right - at least it is representative of both plaintiffs and defendants in the civil trials he's seen over the past 25 years. Good looking women, he observes, often make disproportionately stupid choices about men.

So much for the set-up. The big second act of the movie settles on Ronnie's most troubling delusion: that he would make an ace police officer. And to this end he stalks Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta), practices with firearms at the gun range and applies to the local police academy. You see, Ronnie believes that the only good flasher is a dead flasher, and the same for any other miscreant, regardless of their crime.

I shall say no more.

 

 

 

 

Image: 9/9  NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.  The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

 

Observe and Report on Blu-ray sports a pretty good image with vivid colors, solid, noiseless blacks, believable textures (faces, jackets, weapons), where technical distractions are at a minimum. Grain is not very consistent with artifacts making the image less smooth and more blocky when scrutinized. Contrast is excellent helping bring out the vibrancy of the colors which can tend to look almost saturated and unrealistically brilliant at times - but flesh tones seem accurate. The end results though are less film-like but we are treated to surprisingly effective transfer considering the single-layering and modest bitrate. The reasonably crisp visuals never cross the line to being overly glossy. This is easy to differentiate from the relative dullness of SD and viewers won't find much dissatisfaction with the image quality - it supports this comedy with unusually vibrant hues.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music : 8/8

English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix runs a gamut not typical for a comedy: there is some seriously realistic weapons fire, especially on the shooting range, with plenty of slam and reverberance. On the other hand, the surrounds are not always engaged as expected. The music, which is often deliciously chosen for the moment, sometimes opens the space beyond infinity it seems. Dialogue is front-directed, as is usual, but activity in the mall is not always supported by sufficient ambient sounds, possibly to help us focus on the main characters. It's a question of balance and judgment. I don't object. I merely observe and report.

 

Operations : 6

The main difficulty with this disc is that the feature commentary (or what we usually call a commentary) is only available in picture-in-picture mode from the main menu. If you wanted to watch the movie and listen to the commentary without benefit or distraction of PIP, you couldn't. And despite what it says on the back cover, all the extra features are in high def, not "480/1/p" – in single digit bit rates to be sure, but HD nonetheless, with better image quality than we would expect from even very good SD.

 

 

 

Extras : 5

Being HD is a plus, though the offerings are self-congratulatory in that who-gives-a-shit way that Rogen and others of his ilk are famous for. In Basic Training Rogen talks about how Ronnie channels his "rage issues" as an armed security guard. The Forest Ridge Mall: Security Recruitment Video is just that, but processed to appear as if in a state of video mistrack. Seth Rogen & Anna Faris: Unscripted is more off the cuff stuff with Seth and Anna more or less in character. The Additional Scenes are worth your time, I found the Gag Reel much less so – unless something else is meant by "gag."

 

 

Recommendation : 7

So much for my thinly veiled attempts to disguise my general lack of enthusiasm for much of what Seth Rogen does on film: On one of the Extra Features he admits "I don't prepare that much, I guess you would say." I must confess that Observe and Report finds he and I on opposite ends of what qualifies as funny. Rogen's fans are not likely to be disappointed, though Ronnie Barnhardt is not your typical Rogen zhlob that we have come to know so well from Knocked Up and Zack and Miri. But Rogen aside, there is an unrelenting meanness about the events depicted that I found far too much work to get past and which neutralized the genuinely funny bits – the ones I found so, anyway. So much for my reaction to the movie. The image and audio quality are much better than passable.

Leonard Norwitz
September 18th, 2009

 


 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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