Dark R-Rated Offensive Comedy Secret Gem Gets Overshadowed By A Worse Movie, Stream Without Netflix

By TeeJay Small | Updated

observe and report

If you’ve spent enough time in the movie theater, you’re likely already aware of the concept of “twin films.” These are movies that come out around the same time, center on basically the same or very similar subject matter, and vie for popularity against one another at the box office and in the court of public opinion. One of the most tragic cases of the public choosing the wrong twin comes in the form of 2009’s Observe and Report, which lost a popularity contest to the far-inferior Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

Twin Movies

observe and report

It’s easy to see how these two films got mixed up with each other, as they both center on a dim-witted, overweight mall cop who has gone mad with power, and premiered in theaters within a margin of just a few short months.

Still, the films diverge in many ways, with Paul Blart: Mall Cop taking on the role of a straightforward family-friendly comedy, and Observe and Report getting quite a bit more graphic.

Jody Hill

It’s also easy to see why Paul Blart won out, as Observe and Report came out a few months after the Kevin James-led comedy premiered, and ostracized a large chunk of its audience by leaning so hard on disturbing material and raunchy language.

Observe and Report was written and directed by Jody Hill, who later went on to create hilarious off-beat TV shows such as Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals. Hill also directed an episode of other high-quality comedies in recent years, including The Righteous Gemstones and Peacemaker.

The Cast

observe and report

Observe and Report also touts a cast of comedy heavy-hitters, including Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Jesse Plemons, Aziz Ansari, Patton Oswalt, Ant-Man‘s Michael Peña, and Ray Liotta in the funniest role of his career.

The film centers on Ronnie, a manic bi-polar mall security guard with dreams of becoming a police officer and an ego the size of the parking lot he surveys. After a flasher begins exposing himself to various women at the mall, Ronnie deems himself a vigilante, and clashes with a local detective assigned to the case.

The Reviews

I won’t go too deep into the plot of Observe and Report, but suffice it to say the film starts on a dark comedic note and only continues to ratchet up the graphic violence, nudity, and insane situations as it goes on, exposing audiences to a bizarre amount of horrific subject matter for a comedy.

The reviews are expectedly mixed, as many critics simply didn’t know what to make of this film when it came out, especially so soon after the upbeat and light-hearted Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

Stream It Now


I personally have memories of catching Paul Blart in theaters with my mother in 2009, and while I didn’t think much of it at the time, I can certainly acknowledge that it made for a much less awkward drive home than Observe and Report would have.

Still, Observe and Report is a far superior film, bringing in tons of laughs, plenty of WTF moments, and a healthy sprinkling of Ray Liotta screaming his head off in baffled frustration. If you’re interested in catching Observe and Report today, the film can be streamed on Max.