The recent Hollywood comic landscape that Judd Apatow has been dominating over the last few years has a new sherrif in town: Jody Hill. After his delusionally funny super-low budget debut The Foot Fist Way, he co-created one of the strangest, most awkwardly funny television shows in Eastbound and Down. And now, with his latest film, the diseased masterwork Observe and Report, I can confidently state that he is, at least for me, the most daring and hysterical comedic voice getting to play with big-studio money. It's SHOCKING to me that Warner Brothers allowed this film to get made. It couldn't have cost much to make (I've read the budget was $15-20 million), so it was never going to be a high-risk financial move. It's just that the humor in Observe and Report comes from some of the most unlikeliest of places. It's not really a comedy. It's more like a completely fucked up, modern day version of Martin Scorsese's brilliant satire The King of Comedy. Now, overall, Observe and Report can't touch Scorsese's film. And, in fact, unlike The King of Comedy, there are a few things that didn't work for me in Observe and Report, and at least one thing that I know that could have made it even better than it turned out to be. But I'll save all of that for my full review.
All I will say is that there are moments of dangerous, sickly inspired humor in this film and the ending is one of the craziest, most go-for-broke things I've seen since some of the edgiest bits of Borat (the upcoming Bruno should be very interesting...). What Hill doesn't do (which Apatow does) is inject his work with easy sentimentality. Hill's characters are pathetic losers, the dregs of American society, people with zero moral centers and zero ability to realize that, yes, their shit does in fact stink. I laughed out loud at least 10 times while watching this film, and constantly sat in my seat with a perplexed grin on my face. Hill shows that he's got a little bit of style in him with his direction, but really, it's the genuinely fucked up set of ideas and sequences that he wrote that really make Observe and Report woth seeking out. Now, there is no doubt -- some people will utterly hate this film. And I can respect that. But if you're like me, in that you want to see something different, something that will actually challenge your perceptions of what should be considered funny, then Observe and Report should really satisfy your need for the new and outrageous. If not, I'm pretty sure that Ronnie Barnhardt's PG-rated cousin Paul Blart is still kicking around theaters.