If I were to tell you to name an underdog character in a film, you could name tons. You’ve got Rudy, Rocky Balboa, Daniel Larusso, Steve Wiebe (King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, one of the best docs ever, look it up), John McClane, etc. and all of these things have stuff in common. All of them are good-natured people, fighting against all odds to achieve their dreams and goals. They are not racist, homophobic, drug using, mentally unstable, kid punching, date raping sociopaths. They are not Ronnie Barnhardt. Ronnie Barnhardt, played by Seth Rogan, is Head of Security at Forest Ridge Mall. One day after a streaker exposes himself to many woman in the parking lot, Ronnie takes it upon himself to catch the man. Ronnie feels threatened after his boss calls in Detective Harrison, played by Ray Liotta, to actually solve the case. Oh and there’s also Brandi, played by Anna Faris, who works at the makeup counter and she isn’t exactly someone that you bring home to Mom.
Sounds like an underdog story right, albeit an odd one but one nonetheless right? Well it is…it’s just being told in a satirical fashion. As mentioned above, Ronnie is not a good person, he isn’t one to root for. When Harrison and Ronnie start asking people about possible information, Ronnie automatically starts looking for minorities. This ends up with Ronnie confronting an Iraqi shopkeeper, played by Aziz Ansari, and accusing him of being the streaker. Luckily this ends up being one of the best moments in the film as the two of them go back and forth with one another with Aziz’s character making the good point that his “d**k is brown, motherf**ker”.
Most of the humor in the film comes from a highly uncomfortable place and it’s supposed to make you cringe. It’s a challenging type of comedy, some that I don’t think is being made enough these days. This isn’t a slapstick comedy. It doesn’t condone Ronnie’s actions though and a lot of people don’t seem to understand that. People seem to pull for Ronnie as he’s high on coke and hitting teenagers in the face with a skateboard but the film really doesn’t.
I also think that Seth Rogan was a perfect choice to play Ronnie. When you think of Seth Rogan, you think of this really funny likable guy…well the people that don’t hate him. He’s actually acting in this film and not just playing Seth Rogan and our perception of Seth Rogan makes it even harder to watch this character do horrible things in this movie.
I also want to make mention of Jody Hill’s direction in this film. The editing is something that grew on me after seeing the film, it keeps the awkwardness going by cutting at jarring times. The film will be in the middle of a musical cue and just cut away. The film has some jarring cuts that just increases it all to another level and the ending…well the end of the film keeps up with the jarring feeling.
The film is not for everyone and it doesn’t surprise me that the film is only at 50% on the Tomatometer. It is a very dark and very challenging film to watch but it’s absolutely hilarious.
Cinema Rush rating: 8 out of 10