Observe and Report

728_observe-report.jpgNew York Times critic Bosley Crowther once complained of Stanley Kubrick’s harrowing and hilarious Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, “Virtually everybody turns up stupid or insane — or, what is worse, psychopathic.” Crowther’s concern was not just that Kubrick was making a sick joke out of the idea of nuclear war, but that he seemed (to Crowther) to be out to undermine, discredit and mock the entire American military and executive establishment, depicting the U.S.A. itself as a dangerously deranged member of the global community. Dr. Strangelove is, of course, essential satire and a stone classic. Observe and Report is more derivative and less urgent. Still, it’s quite something. Watching it made me feel a little bit like Bosley Crowther fussing over the Kubrick. “Somehow, to me, it isn’t funny,” Crowther wrote. “It is malefic and sick.”

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The House Bunny

Anna Faris gives a kooky, effervescent performance in this

depressingly conventional post-feminist farce about what happens when a

pampered, sheltered beauty queen gets kicked out of her Playboy Mansion

home at the ripe age of 27. The hapless, homeless, half-naked sexpot wanders

onto the front lawn of the least popular local sorority and sets about teaching

the frumpy women of Zeta house how to dress like Pussycat Dolls in order to

attract the new pledges they desperately need — and the boys who will give

their lives meaning. If you think of this Adam Sandler co-production as a cross

between Legally Blonde and a gender-swapped Revenge of the Nerds, you won’t

be too far off the mark. There is something compelling about the idea of a dumb

comedy starring funny women for a change — and Faris is really funny. But the

script isn’t exactly full of surprises, and just about every major scene (the

awkward date, the makeover, the sexy car wash) is a too-familiar cliché in a

film that contradicts itself, insisting that men want women who are beautiful

on the inside — only after asserting that you need to wear big hair, push-up

bras and shorty-shorts to get their attention. C+