Radio 04.17.09
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my review of two films now showing at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :
            “Observe And Report” and “State Of Play ” are polar opposites.
            “Observe And Report” tries to be funny, but leans so hard on the supposed farce of a mall cop (already done this year in “Paul Blart”) that it becomes as pointless as a five-minute skit that went on too long.
            “State Of Play ” is a complex drama, constantly unfolding, even as the characters are continually uncovering the clues.  True, you could get frustrated with the viewer deception:  but at least there is some kind of mental engagement for the viewer, other than narrow-minded, mean-spirited lampooning.
            “Observe And Report” consists of non-stop f-bombs interspersed with the occasional raunchy sexual reference that demeans both the women who are the objects and the men who are the subjects.
            “State Of Play ” uses slang words the way they were intended, sparingly, for emphasis.  And just a little raunch humor strategically placed in very serious dialogue is funny precisely because it is out of context.  But then you chuckle at the sophomoric and move on, before it becomes moronic.
            “Observe And Report” utilizes nudity in a crass, gross-out kind of way that could not possibly be erotic to anyone, much less funny.  That’s not nudity, that’s just plain ol’ nekkid.  “State Of Play ” is all about the implied sexuality of extramarital affairs, betrayed by the knowing glance, the careless caress, the too-intimate greeting, the too-familiar query.  Subtlety is interesting for so much longer.
            “Observe And Report” develops relationships by chronicling drinking shots together until vomiting, or harassing until a fit of explosive invective.  “State Of Play ” develops relationships by slowly etching the changing response of one character to another, and the affect one character’s actions has on another.
            When you watch “Observe And Report,” you feel you’ve participated in the Great American Dumbdown.  When you watch “State Of Play ,” your senses are heightened with the glimpses into the corridors of power in Washington , the push-pull between the media and politics, between the media and corporate America , and the struggle for “truth-seeking” versus “sales” within the media itself.  True, it’s fiction.  But it’s based on current events, and it feels real.
            “Observe And Report” will be seen by few and enjoyed by even fewer.  “State Of Play ” will enjoy a much wider audience, partly because of the great actors involved, but mostly because they have a substantive vehicle to ply the craft of their trade.  Your choice.
This Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93.5 KICK-FM