Observe and Report mines the mall for comedy
LOS ANGELES—Observe and Report writer/director Jody Hill doesn’t want anyone to confuse his film with any other movies about mall cops. He doesn’t want film goers to think that they have already seen all the mall cop movies they need to see, which makes sense given that the recent Paul Blart: Mall Cop has made over $140 million.
In fact, the movies are hardly similar. Steve Carr’s PG-rated movie employed Kevin James’ physical comedy skills to get laughs from a script about a dedicated mall cop out to catch some thieves. Hill’s R-rated (in the U.S.) movie stars Seth Rogen as Ronnie, a mall cop with a huge ego and a terrible temper. His prey is a flasher and Rogen’s character swears on screen almost as much as Rogen does off-screen. The film opens April 10.
Hill says he wasn’t interested in making a light comedy about malls. “I hate malls,” he says in a Los Angeles hotel room. “I can’t be at one for more than 20 minutes without going crazy. I definitely wanted to set the characters in the mall and have them act insanely. When I was making (his debut film) The Foot Fist Way my characters started out normal and were driven insane. Here I wanted to take it to a dangerous level so I thought a mall would be a good place because I know they drive me crazy. I think there is something about having all these people around all the time that I see as being conducive to insanity.”
Watch the trailer for Observe and Report
He also wanted to feature a character that was unlikable, something most filmmakers go out of their way to avoid. “I was inspired in a way by a lot of the films of the 1970s which featured characters who weren’t necessarily likable. We wanted to feature a complicated character who finds his own way in the world. It wasn’t about being a mall cop, it was the idea that you would have a guy who was in a position of power but didn’t have any real power. Then you look at how he deals with that problem and I thought the comedy could come out of that.”