Having spent the last few years cultivating a lucrative career playing the loveable stoner, Seth Rogen tries for something a bit different in his latest film, Observe and Report.
Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, a loose-cannon, bipolar security guard obsessed with protecting his mall patrons and, by extension, society as a whole. Ronnie launches a crusade to bring a serial flasher to justice that puts him at odds with a local police detective, played by Ray Liotta.
But while Ronnie takes his pursuit of justice almost too seriously, Rogen didn’t approach the film as a drama.
“In my head it was all very funny,” he says. “The more serious and crazy it was, the funnier I thought it was after the take.”
But he did pack on the pounds to prepare for the part. “It seemed like it would be funny, the bigger Ronnie was, the less physically capable he looked. Because the joke is, he actually is pretty dangerous,” said Rogen, who has since slimmed down in preparation for next year’s The Green Hornet.
In a short time, the comic actor has built a reputation for being able to move between mainstream, family-friendly films and more adult material. Rogen most recently hit theatres as part of the voice cast for Monsters vs. Aliens, a far cry from Observe and Report.
“I’m very thankful that people are allowing me to do this,” Rogen says. “I’m kind of shocked that I’ve gotten away with it, that I can do a movie that has been described as transgressive and another that’s a delightful family romp.”
Transgressive is one way to put it. Observe and Report lays on intense amounts of violence and profanity for a comedy.
“There was a conscious decision to make this film kind of dangerous and edgy,” explains writer/director Jody Hill.
Of course, the filmmaker has had to contend with the success of that other movie about a mall security guard, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which debuted in January.
“I didn’t know about it until right before production,” says Hill.
But as far as Hill is concerned, the similarities end at the main characters’ shared profession. “Rather than a broad comedy, we wanted to make a sort of character piece that you would see in the ’70s,” Hill says. “We were focusing more on movies like Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy.”