Jun 10, 2009

Paul Blart vs. Observe and Report

This year has been one of a select few in my lifetime that saw two films hit cinemas in a short span of time with a very similar premise. January 16, 2009, Paul Blart: Mall Cop staring Kevin James hit the cinemas and was the first big theatrical hit of the year. Only a few months later, April 10, 2009 saw the theatrical debut of Observe and Report starring Seth Rogen. Both films on the surface were very identical – a comedy about an overzealous Mall Cop who takes his job too seriously, and who’d like a girl that isn’t particularly interested in him. Being so interesting a case, I decided to see both films. (Click titles to watch trailers. Posters credited to Fandango.com)

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

A quirky comedy produced by Adam Sandler under Happy Madison studios, so naturally, not a lot of deep, thought provoking, subtle humor. Instead, you get a lot of ridiculous, over the top action-comedy and violence-driven humor. The bad guys are, for all intents and purposes, parkour loving, skateboard riding ‘thugs’, or very potentially un-stealthy ninjas. Things are kept cute though under the PG rating, and the revealing of the antagonist of this film was a real emotion grabber. I’m trying to be unbiased with this, because there are PG films out there that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed as an adult, such as last year’s hit, Horton Hears A Who. I’d love to see Horton Hears A Who again, and plan on eventually purchasing it on DVD. Paul Blart, not so much. And that’s a shame, because I love Kevin James. The kids in the theater seemed to be enjoying the film, but it seems like an easily forgettable movie for them, soon to be replaced with the latest Transformers, Up, or Toy Story 3. I’d give it 2 1/2 *’s out of 5.

Observe and Report

A dark comedy, directed by Jody Hill, a relative newcomer to big, theater-hitting films, and produced by Legendary Pictures, known for producing the mega movies in the last few years based on DC Comics, such as Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Superman Returns, 300 and Watchmen. This film relied on a lot of shock comedy and gross-outs to garner sentimentality, but doesn’t reach the peak with this genre that Borat did. I thought I would feel a bit more at home in the theater with my mature surrounding company than the dozens of kids and parents that were at Paul Blart, but I heard one guy, roughly my age, interject his opinion during an old preview for Crank 2 that Crank 1 was the better movie. Upon that note, I knew I was an outsider in this theater as well. Observe and Report does have some great scenes in it, but as someone profoundly interested in psychological thrillers and psychology in general, I have to cast my criticism either on the Jody Hill or on Seth Rogen, as I couldn’t truly buy into Rogen baring a mental illness (this isn’t much of a spoiler note, don’t worry). While I don’t regret going to see the movie, nor did I feel that my time was wasted by watching it, it’s just not something I’d shell out the money to buy, thus earning itself a 3 *’s out of 5.

There’s one huge difference in my eyes that really separate the two films, and that is the MPAA rating. The PG Rating for Paul Blart: Mall Cop and the R rating for Observe and Report really marketed toward the farthest extremes of the spectrum. Blart came off too cartoonish at points, hitting some of the same lows that the Home Alone franchise hit post Home Alone 2, whereas Observe wanted to just push the envelope as far as possible. If I had to pick which one to see out of the two, I’d go with Observe and Report, not so much because it’s the better suited movie for me, but by a small margin it was the better rounded movie, dedicating more time to character distinction and dimension.

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