ANNA FARIS in "Observe and Report" (2009)

Good comedy is a hard thing to pull off and nobody knows that better than actors who stick to drama. Good comedy has the same levels of emotion or sincerity that drama has, only it is presented deep beneath the humor the actor brings it out with. In short, good comedy is human nature twisted for all its farcical worth. So far, in this quite weak year of 2009, there is not a more overlooked, completely invigorating, terrifying yet hilarious comedic supporting performance by an actress this year other than:

Anna Faris in Observe and Report
(2009)
approx. 9 minutes and 3 seconds
14 scenes
roughly 10.4% of film’s total running time

Judging by the advertisements for Observe and Report, the first thing that would come to mind watching clips of Faris’ performance is that she will be playing her normal comedic ditz shtick only this time as the love interest of a psycho mall cop. You’d be shocked to watch the film and see how far from that she is.

Faris’ character Brandi is, to put it bluntly, a makeup saleswoman who is obviously an egotistical slut trying her best to look like a Playboy bunny; hanging out her cleavage for all to see and laughing, smiling falsely at even those she considers close to her. She stares down on lower-class mall cop Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) as if he is nothing but trash without considering for a second the background she more than likely comes from as well. Sounds fun, eh?

Throughout Observe and Report, Ronnie tries his best to get Brandi to go on a date with him, clueless of her tactless feelings toward him. And when she is unexpectedly flashed by the known serial flasher running around the mall,

all she can do is overreact in disgust.

Ronnie tries to be her hero, only Brandi seems to want a hero at that moment to drag on the attention to her false facade of helplessness.

And through this notion is where Brandi gains her repulsive ugliness as a human being. She hates Ronnie, but still manages to somehow agree with going on a date.

She once again makes herself feel helpless in order to have an excuse to fuck him when the night’s over. However, even with this wrecking plan of hers, she still manages to forget about it for the sake of being her savage self, arriving for his date from a car filled with party-hungry guys. Ronnie is clueless to this as well even though she is still giving him looks of disgust.

When the dinner date scene between Ronnie and Brandi arrives is when the character arch of Brandi becomes much more unsettling, with Faris brave enough to step up to bringing such a disturbing examination of extreme human depravity to the screen. Every moment of her dinner scene is both terrifying,

funny,

and yet realistic. Faris isn’t playing this character in an overtly funny way. She gains her laughs from the fact that she is so incredibly unpleasant. Instead of aiming for the tickle bone, Faris masochistically heads for the rib cage with a machete, earning laughs from the fact that she isn’t earning them. For example, there is the scene with Ronnie’s pills

where she misreads the name of the medicine and pops the whole bottle and shot after shot in public. And she likes Ronnie for this, but only until all the pills disappear.

And then we have her answer to Ronnie’s question of: “Do you like your job?”

“Oh, I hate that fucking shit. Constant bitching all day long. I like do makeup on these fat-ass women and you know what? My mom always said… you can polish a turd, but it’s still a piece of shit.”

And the way Brandi says this is random, unapologetic, and full of hatred, yet doofus Ronnie can’t help but ignore it…

Of course by the end of the night she is riding home with him.

And of course she pukes all over the sidewalk on the way to his front door.

And of course he date rapes her while she throws up all over the bed and herself.

After this night, Ronnie strongly believes that while Brandi doesn’t hardly speak to him anymore, that him and her still have something going on between them. He begins to stalk her at the mall

and soon finds out she is bonking Ronnie’s own worst enemy – Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta).

Why does she do this? Only Brandi knows, but when she does, she could care less what another would think about her. And the fact that she didn’t even do it as a payback to Ronnie just adds onto her harrowing, trampy nature.

Soon, Brandi finds herself in a state of offense when Ronnie makes a scene after discovering her little fling with Harrison. How does Brandi react? Shockingly, with natural tears in her eyes.

If throughout the film she could care less about how others think, why at this action Ronnie makes does she react as if she’s heartbroken instead as if she’s theatrically helpless like earlier in the film? Only Brandi knows, and in a few hours, she could once again care less.

Throughout Observe and Report, Ronnie lusts so much after Brandi’s bimbo image that he is clueless about the harrowing personality she has underneath her bogus physique. When he refers to Brandi as “the most beautiful woman in the world” you can’t help but to cringe, and as he slowly begins to peel away the layers, the more we become clueless of the kind of person she is. She transitions from the obvious to the mysterious.

Anna Faris bravely portrays Brandi in a perplexing light, shedding no interest in throwing likability into the mix. She is still human to care about, but you pity her. Faris doesn’t pull the typical sympathy card that another actress would either. She sticks to her character’s depraving nature, not letting up for a breath of fresh air. Faris, truly in reality, is one of the sweetest and genuine comediennes I’ve seen. But here? She is Brandi, disgraceful through and through. And for an actress as likable as Faris to turn in one of the most easy-to-hate characters in years, I give her major props. Beacuse she had to have done something right.

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~ by jerkwoddjh on August 11, 2009.

2 Responses to “ANNA FARIS in "Observe and Report" (2009)”

  1. Faris is usually the Jewel in the Crown of any movie she appears in. She reminds me of the great supporting contract players found in 1930’s-1950’s films, as a viewer smiles whenever Faris shows up, knowing they’re going to be entertained by her fearless comedy. Thhanks for recognizing her- guess I’ll have to go over to Netflix now to observe this report.

  2. Great. Nice to see another Faris fan. Please drop by your thoughts on her and the film when you get done. I’d love to hear them.

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