Film: Observe and Report Director: Jody Hill Runtime: 86 mins They say that almost everything happens in threes, but in the case of Hollywood, it seems like things happen more in twos. Every so often a movie will hit theaters, and less than a year later another one will be released that sounds so similar to the former, it wouldn’t be unfair to think the pair of screenwriters shared more than just a brain. The fact that this keeps transpiring is most likely just a big coincidence, but it’s hard not to take notice and feel a little skeptical when it comes to films like “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact,” “The Prestige” and “The Illusionist,” “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life,” “Turner and Hooch” and “K-9” or “Dante’s Peak” and “Volcano.” Well, you can add another entry to that ever-growing list now that “Observe and Report” has followed up January’s “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” an agonizing and unfunny PG-rated comedy that stars Kevin James as an inept shopping mall security guard who lives with his mother and takes his job way too seriously. Don’t look surprised, but “Observe and Report,” is also about an inept security guard (excuse me, head of mall security) who lives with his mother and takes his job far too seriously, only that’s about where the similarities end. James’ Paul Blart is a lovable oaf who means well but can never catch a break, even with the help of his amiable mother. In the R-rated “Observe and Report,” Seth Rogen’s Ronnie Bernhardt is a bipolar lunatic who creates breaks of his own by assaulting mall loiterers with their own skateboards. Oh, and his mother is a raging alcoholic who gets so sloshed she has trouble controlling her bodily functions. Come to think of it, “Observe and Report” will show you a side of Rogen that you were probably never expecting to see. For most of his career, Rogen has made a living playing outspoken stoner goofballs in comedies like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” and “Pineapple Express,” but in “Observe and “Report,” he sheds that persona and gives a performance that will be sure to bring back memories of Robert De Niro’s crazed Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver.” Unstable and delusional, Ronnie sees the perfect opportunity to fulfill his goal of becoming a police officer and dating the woman of his dreams when a trench coat-wearing pervert starts flashing unsuspecting women at the Forest Ridge Mall, including the object of his affection, a busty makeup sales clerk named Brandi (Anna Faris). But things aren’t as easy for Ronnie as they seem, especially when his investigation gets interrupted by Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta), a real police officer who always wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. Up until this point “Observe and Report” has a number of humorous moments, but once the power struggle between Ronnie and Harrison begins to rear its ugly head, the film dives into some pretty dark territory. And that is what causes one of the movie’s greatest weaknesses: Neither of the two are remotely likable and you’ll find yourself caring less about who ends up victorious as they beat the pulp out of each other both mentally and physically. I am all for perverse and dark comedy, but is it too much to ask for it to actually be consistently funny? Director Jody Hill’s (“The Foot Fist Way”) film is about as erratic as Ronnie when he stops taking his prescribed medication and it never really finds a comedic rhythm. The gags are extremely hit-and-miss, and it seems like Hill is just content with continually pushing the envelope of bad taste to try to garner laughs. (I will admit, however, that I will never be able to erase the horrific images from my mind of Ronnie having his final encounter with the flasher.) It also doesn’t help the film’s cause that the secondary characters are severely underdeveloped and not all that amusing. Faris is easily one of today’s top comediennes, but she really doesn’t have much do to here and the antics of her snooty and ditzy character get overly repetitious. And Ronnie’s booze bag mother (Celia Weston) and lisping partner (Michael Pena) are really only given one joke and that joke gets run into the ground rather quickly. In no way was I appalled or turned off by the dark humor in “Observe and Report,” but it kind of knocked me off guard because it was something I really wasn’t anticipating. If you have seen any of the previews on television, they sort of make it seem like “Observe and Report” is this light-hearted comedy that will be a laugh riot. Maybe we should ask Rogen to step into Ronnie’s shoes for one last time and slap the handcuffs on the film’s marketing team and throw them in the slammer for false advertising. Rating: 5/10