BEVERLY HILLS, California — As Seth Rogen made quite clear this past weekend when he hosted "Saturday Night Live," his new film is about a mall cop, but it is not "Paul Blart: Mall Cop." In fact, it's hard to imagine the profanity-laced, crude, darkly violent "Observe and Report" being any less like Paul Blart.
"I have brief spurts of darkness that end very abruptly," Rogen grinned, insisting his new dark comedy is every bit as funny as the comedies he's released over the past few years. "I'm generally in a pretty good mood. But I could yell at people every once in a while."
Rogen hopes his loyal fans will be yelling with laughter when they see him play Ronnie Barnhardt, a demented security chief who considers a second-rate shopping mall to be his kingdom. When his quasi-girlfriend Brandi (Anna Faris) is flashed by a man in nothing more than a trench coat, he recruits his right-hand man Dennis (Michael Peсa) to bring the flasher to justice.
" 'The Foot Fist Way' actually cost $15.75, so this was a lot more money than that," teased director Jody Hill, who made a memorable debut behind the camera with the 2006 Danny McBride cult classic. "Seth Rogen was instrumental in getting ['Observe and Report'] made. I had this completely wacked-out script, and because Seth came onboard, we literally went to the studio [and said], 'We get to make this as crazy as possible. We get nudity, bad words, all we want to do.' "
And so, the film culminates with an unforgettable chase scene that we won't spoil, but let's just say it involves the flasher, an open trench coat and a whole lot of slo-mo. "I think people who are saying 3-D is the future should see this movie," Rogen laughed. "This is definitely an argument against it."
But the great thing about "Observe" and "Blart" — or classic films like "Mallrats," "Dawn of the Dead" and "The Blues Brothers" — is that they all share scenes in the one place where every American kid hangs out when they're growing up: the mall. And they say you can learn a lot about someone by what kind of mall they called home.
"I grew up in Chicago, and we had Four City Mall," remembered "Crash" star Peсa. "Ours was full of Chess Kings and sold Z Cavariccis, Cross Colours and Karl Kani at Sears. It was awesome."
"I hung out at the Alderwood Mall outside Seattle, Washington," Faris recalled. "I went to the Orange Julius, Glamour Shots. Spencer's Gifts was a good one; they always had naughty, sort of semi-raunchy gag gifts. I didn't have much of an allowance, so I couldn't really afford too much.
"You just sort of hang out, you try to hit on guys," Faris remembered of her teenage days wasted in the mall. "I was very awkward. I had headgear. ... I was just an embarrassment."
"I was a skateboarder when I was young. I went to mall parking lots and skateboarded with my friends," Rogen said. "The mall near me had a place called House of Knives, which I don't know if this place exists anymore, but it was all knives and swords and weird Klingon-looking weapons. ... That's where me and my friends hung out. We thought that was pretty rad.
"[We also hung out] at the music store and the video game store," Rogen said, punctuating the point with his trademark laugh. "Pretty much anywhere you'll never meet a girl."
Check out everything we've got on "Observe and Report."
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