Earlier this year, the comedy "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" connected with family audiences, despite the fact that it had its share of PG-rated — as well as some PG-13 — elements.
However, the like-minded but "hard" R-rated comedy "Observe and Report" makes that earlier movie look like a G-rated kids film.
It has a few big laughs, though it is so mean-spirited and is so determined to outrage that a lot of audiences won't be able to enjoy it.
Seth Rogen stars as Ronnie Barnhardt, the possibly unbalanced head of mall security at the fictional Forest Ridge Mall.
Ronnie has been pining for the pretty but shallow makeup counter girl, Brandi (Anna Faris). That only makes him more determined to catch the "flasher" (Randy Gambill) who's revealed himself to her and other mall patrons.
But after Ronnie and his fellow guards fail to make much headway in the case, the mall management calls in the local police force, led by detective Harrison (Ray Liotta).
This starts a game of one-upmanship between the more experienced officer and Ronnie, who's determined to prove he's more than a police academy washout.
Screenwriter/director Jody Hill ("The Foot Fist Way") populates this film with his typical lot of grotesque caricatures.
For example, Ronnie's mother (Celia Weston) is an alcoholic, and Michael Pena, who plays Ronnie's best friend and fellow mall cop, is a drug-addicted thief.
We're not sure whether we should laugh at most of these people or whether we should feel sorry for them.
The same is true of Rogen's bipolar Ronnie. He means well but rarely does the right thing. (For a change, Rogen really seems to be trying to act.)
But the subplot about Ronnie's friendship with a hobbled food-court employee (Collette Wolf) seems like a last-ditch attempt to make the character more sympathetic, and it strikes a false note.
"Observe and Report" is rated R and features strong sexual language (profanity, crude slang term and other frank sex talk), strong violent action (fisticuffs, beatings, vehicular mayhem, target practice and a shooting), graphic male nudity, drug content and references (narcotics and prescription drug abuse), vulgar scatological humor and references, simulated sex and other sexual contact, derogatory slurs and language (involving race and disabilities), and some brief blood and gore. Running time: 86 minutes.