Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Films of 2009 (cont.)
Observe and Report - Dir. Jody Hill
The raunchy comedy era has come back in a big way. The last few years, it's been lead by Judd Apatow with his directorial debut; The 40 Year Old Virgin. Along with Apatow, his cast and crew have branched out to become stars in their own right. Everyone from Seth Rogan, Bill Hader, and Danny Mcbride, to behind the scenes writers and rising comedy directors like Jody Hill and David Gordon Green and writers like Evan Goldberg. Observe and Report is the second film by Jody Hill; who has already gained notoriety for his debut "The Foot Fist Way" with Danny McBride. Seth Rogan plays Ronnie Barnhardt, the head of security for his mall; who takes his job a little too seriously. His duty is especially called when a local streaker has hit the property and terrorizes any mall patron that crosses his path. Ronnie along with his associates; a spanish security guard named Dennis, surprisingly (but brilliantly) played by Michael Pena, and two twin asian gun nuts, jump on the path to solving the crime. Other subplots begin to emerge, including a theft that brings in Det. Harrison, played by Ray Liotta, an Ronnie's obsession with the cosmetics girl, played by Anna Faris. Those not familiar with Jody Hill's tone, may be rubbed incorrectly with certain aspects of the humor in this film. Like Hill's fantastic HBO series Eastbound and Down, the humor is lowbrow, offensive, but surprisingly subtle. With a lot of Rogen's films feeling like his comedy comes natural, the main character's complete darkness is actually a departure from Rogen's previous films and makes this character fresh and extremely entertaining to follow. The Apatow branched comedy troupe shows no signs of slowing down with all his alumni consistenly finding work with their own projects as well as other big directors; Rogen was also lucky enough to work with Kevin Smith for his 2008 hit Zach and Miri make a Porno. Observe and Report may not be for everyone, but for the fans of other strange films like The Cable Guy, The Weather Man, and Serial Mom, Observe and Report is another gem from Hill and Rogen that in my book has tremendous replay value and lots of laughs.
Rogen and Pena on Patrol in Observe and Report. (thanks to chud.com for the photo.)
The Hangover - Dir. Todd Philips
What happened in Vegas is out like dirty laundry in Todd Philips' return to his very best; after his A-Team-esque cinematic misses like Starsky and Hutch and School for Scoundrels. The Hangover is about a group of friends celebrating their best friend's final night of freedom before marriage in none other than Las Vegas. Before long, the characters wake up dazed, confused, and worse...missing their best friend. What begins is a journey that's filled with as many questions and answers that make you feel like you're watching Chinatown replaced with a bunch of misfits. The mystery and pacing of the films answers to the plot unfold just as precise as if you were watching a murder mystery or a serious dramatic political conspiracy. With no recollection of the previous evening, we follow these characters on what chalks up to be a more fun filled day in vegas than actually partying in the sin city nightlife. Bradley Cooper heads the cast as a raunchy school teacher named Phil Wenneck, Cooper isn't a stranger to comedy with his previous; and great portrayal of a self important rich man on campus in Wedding Crashers. Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis co star with Cooper in helping Phil (Cooper), the best man of the wedding, find their friend and make it back to the wedding on time. This film was actually the biggest surprise of the summer grossing over 100 million and garnering extremely positive reviews; which is not typical of a comedy film with this type of subject matter. The hype isn't just hype though, the film is extremely worth the praise. It's gag-factor is high and the pacing of the film is the exact type of formula we knew and loved from Philips' earlier films such as Road Trip and Old School. The Hangover is easily Philips' best film and one of my favorite picks for the year 2009.
Cooper and crew, trying to figure out what happened.
(thank you to cleveland.com for the screencap.)