Discussing
Sympathy for the wacko

Josh Larsen

Nbierma
April 23, 2009

I won't be seeing the movie because the reviews say there's nothing redemptive about this character; he's just a maniac who goes around beating people up for no reason. The problem might not be the language or the nudity, but the pointless violence. (Unless it could be argued that the pointlessness of his violence is meant to be a commentary on, well, the pointlessness of violence, but that seems a little like a cop-out).

Nbierma
April 23, 2009

("cop-out": no pun intended!)

DonS
April 24, 2009

The point is well-taken, and it's good to look for redemptive truth in just about anything. However, will all due respect, I don't need to see a raunchy movie to learn that lesson.<br><br>I've mellowed quite a bit from my days growing up in a church that said all movies are "worldly," but I still think our journey in biblical sanctification calls for us to be careful in our choices in entertainment.<br><br>(Confession: I did see "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," which also had some cute moral truth hidden in it...)

Travis
April 24, 2009

I will probably wait till the movie comes out on DVD before I watch it. However, I do want to say, haven't we done the male frontal nudity enough already. I mean does it still get laughs. This is like the 3rd or 4th movie of its kind in which you see a guys penis. It's getting really old. And would we be as quick to brush it off if it was a woman? I'm not saying Seth Rogan's package is causing anyone to lust by the way. I just think it's kind of a double standard.

Gavin
April 24, 2009

<br>Have you ever actually walked out of a movie screening? Or do you have a sworn duty to sit through all this dross week by week?<br><br>

Steven Koster
April 24, 2009

What I'm left wondering is does the film go beyond demanding empathy for a broken and repulsive protagonist? Or is that the whole point? <br><br>A film that achieves empathy with twisted image-bearers does ineed achieve something important for Christians to experience, but it that enough? And at what cost? Does the film suggest that wallowing in sickness is the state of humankind, and that's OK? <br><br>I'd be much more impressed if we got empathy and then some transformation, with at least some reflections of Divine light sneaking through.<br><br><br>

Steven Koster
April 24, 2009

As a professional film critic, he probably does have a certain ethical calling to let the material have its due. <br><br>Personally, I love the Fast Forward button, especially if there are subtitles still visible as I scan along the dull parts. Not many films are really worth the full two hours it takes to sit through them! But some are worth more...<br><br>

Josh
April 27, 2009

I haven't ever walked out, largely because it drives me nuts when groups - Christian or otherwise - mount a campaign condemning a certain movie without ever having seen it. That said, during certain films in the recent torture porn craze ("Saw," "Hostel"), I spent a loooong time with my eyes closed.<br><br>As to some of the other comments, a few of you have mentioned that "Observe and Report" doesn't interest you unless Ronnie, the main character, shows some sort of redemptive potential by the end. Which makes me wonder, can a film that doesn't offer an inkling of redemption be of value to the Christian viewer, or is that the bottom line for what's "acceptable"?

Nbierma
April 27, 2009

&gt;&gt; shows some sort of redemptive potential by the end. Which makes me wonder, can a film that doesn't offer an inkling of redemption be of value to the Christian viewer, or is that the bottom line for what's "acceptable"?<br><br>That's a key question. It make me re-think my comment at the top of this thread--perhaps too dismissive. Corny, tacked-on sentimental redemption is a Hollywood cliche and movies that avoid it may be better, more honest, and more worthwhile than movies that don't. 'Observe and Report' may even have been consciously subverting the Hollywood norm. (I also thought after posting my comment that maybe the Seth Rogen character could serve as a useful satire of the bullying, trigger-happy Bush Administration). <br><br>So I certainly won't require a happy or hopeful ending of any film I watch. But my question for films that linger on moral repugnance without remains this: what's the point? If showing us the brokenness of the world, without sugarcoating anything, can enhance our understanding and lament of brokenness and illuminate its intricacies, that's helpful (and in those cases, don't sanitize reality by toning down language and violence). Those aims may sound pretty high-minded; but without them, there's a huge risk in merely exploiting and indulging in brokenness. <br><br>Last thought: the same reviewers who talked me out of seeing 'Observe and Report' talked me into thinking I should see 'Sin Nombre,' (<a href="http://www.bit.ly/MZMh0)" rel="nofollow">www.bit.ly/MZMh0)</a> a dark, violent, depressing moving with apparently little redemptive hope, but which (from the sound of it) holds up a mirror to brokenness in the world, gives context to the often two-dimensional immigration debate, and evokes earnest empathy for characters trapped in cycles of suffering even as they partly perpetuate those cycles. <br><br>Of course, the aims of these two movies are so different they can hardly be compared. But it is worth noting that the absence of redemption in one may be more disturbing than the absence of redemption in the other. <br>

Steven Koster
April 27, 2009

With Nathan below, I too wouldn't want a happy-happy shallow ending. <br><br>I guess my question is, how does a film with little redemption portray that lack of hope? How does it feel about the broken darkness? Is it a lament and cry for justice? Is it gut-wrenchingly nihilisticly empty? Is it absurd? funny? Just sick for the fun of it?

Nbierma
April 28, 2009

yes, that's what I was getting at [below], in too many words

Carl
June 7, 2009

"Observe and Report" blew me away, definitely one of my alltime favorites and possibly IS my all-time favorite (prior one: "The Royal Tenenbaums.") I absolutely felt that the movie showed a damaged character who wanted to bring righteousness to the world, even if his idea of it could be wrong sometimes. But by the end, he finally catches some breaks and has found love with a Christian girl who is not mocked in the film, but rather, is perhaps THE most positive and beautiful character. Her unexpected kiss towards Rogen is, in my mind, the most breathtaking and touching kiss I've seen in a film alongside the stunning kiss scene in "Punch Drunk Love." (Another fave of mine). Anyway, great great stuff. Open your minds people and realize that watching something doesnt mean you're altering your faith. If our faith is that shallow that we have to freak out about a movie with some troublesome content then how strong is it anyway? Kudos Josh, good points!

Carl
June 7, 2009

Ronnie IS redeemed, Josh!!! At least to a large degree. He gets to prove that he can bring down the criminal afflicting his mall, he gains a new sense of pride in his job after hitting real lows, and finds true love with a Christian girl (he makes it clear she's waiting for marriage for sex and jokes that he's trying to change that, but i think it's obvious that she's portrayed as being very true to her values and he's just making a quick, crude 'guy joke' that doesn't mean anything. He knows he has true love now and he'll abide by her rules. Finding Jesus personally will probably come in time for him.

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