****/**** Image A Sound A Extras B-
starring Seth Rogen, Anna Faris, Michael Peña, Ray Liotta
written and directed by Jody Hill
by Ian Pugh The tide is changing, that much is clear. In just the last month alone, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel have turned a dependence on male bonding into a crisis of sexual identity (I Love You, Man), while Greg Mottola has deromanticized teenage nostalgia (Adventureland). Now, with their thoroughly disturbing Observe and Report, Jody Hill and Seth Rogen finish prying loose the grip that Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow have had on American comedy these past few years. More importantly, the film finally gives a clear voice to the ineluctable madness that the cinema of 2009 has poked and prodded at up to this point. The deadly sociopathy of Alan Moore's Rorschach blooms at last in security guard Ronnie Barnhardt (Rogen), approached with frightened apprehension and a full understanding as to why he would nevertheless be lauded as a hero. As a result, the movie he inhabits is difficult, devastating, and paints our most recent cycles of vulgar, man-child humour as an empire built on unspoken psychosis and violent outbursts. Suddenly, the idea of Ferrell beating up a swarm of grade-schoolers in Step Brothers doesn't seem so hilarious.