Last year, Jody Hill's cult-classic-before-it-was-even-released The Foot Fist Way came and went without so much as making a ripple in the pop culture consciousness of the American public. It made less than $250,000 at the box office, meaning almost nobody saw Danny McBride in his breakout performance. Fortunately for him, Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, and HBO's "Eastbound and Down" (written by Hill) have cemented his status as a comic star on the rise. Unfortunately for Jody Hill, nobody saw The Foot Fist Way, and chances are they won't do so before seeing his new movie, Observe and Report.
This is going to create some serious issues for many people, primarily because the brilliant marketing campaign for Observe and Report - especially the trailer - is selling it like a sequel to Paul Blart: Mall Cop, if not an outright spoof of it. Not surprisingly to those who are familiar with Hill, it's neither, and the references you may have heard to Taxi Driver are accurate. It's a crude, crass, crazy comedy starring a bipolar version of Seth Rogen's character from Pineapple Express, and it will chew up the unsuspecting viewer and violently spit them out.
They'll deserve it, of course, for not heeding the warning signs plastered all over this movie, starting with the name of its writer and director. Jody Hill hasn't sugarcoated anything about his style of humor: "I don’t find much in the comedies I’ve been seeing to get excited about. I’ll watch ‘City of God’ and laugh more...Comedy, for some reason, it’s the most dangerous cinema out there," he said in a recent interview. Danny McBride added, "“That’s what’s going to throw people. I think they’re going to be expecting punch lines, and instead they’re going to get a dark, crazy, awesome journey.” And the star of the movie, Seth Rogen?: "“It’s my own personal joke, to see how people freak out."
Sorry, Seth, but I suspect the joke is going to end up being on you guys, box-office gold not withstanding. Jody Hill's humor is, well, a little out there, and I highly doubt people will understand that Rogen is trying to make a departure into a different style of comedy. They'll hoot and holler about the drug use and alcoholism and feigned rape and the crazy minorities and the unforgettably graphic nudity and the bone-crushing and bloody violence and the overall tastelessness of everything. But they're not going to get the "joke" or take any meaning from the movie, and most of them will walk out afterward with a huge grin on their face, privately trying to understand how they could have been so hoodwinked.
The only thing worse than thinking that Hollywood treats us moviegoers like oblivious sheep is realizing that we are, in fact, oblivious sheep. We'll see anything, laugh at anything, pay for anything, and come back asking for more, never questioning... anything in the process.