Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction
Run Time: 1 hour 38 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt, Will Forte,
Written by Jared Stern, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Directed by Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod, Saturday Night Live)
Opens locally on Friday, July 27th, 2012
The Watch is a prime example of a movie trying to be too many things at once. No question it is mostly a comedy, but it is also firmly a science-fiction film. The first half of the film contains a murder-mystery, while in the second half we get a strand of unneeded family drama shoved in. With comedic stars like Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade in the mix, why not lean towards your strengths?
Instead, The Watch gets bogged down with all of these distractions. While it’s not a complete stinker, it isn’t a very memorable comedy either, and that's a disappointment considering what should have been with this starring line-up.
The film was originally called Neighborhood Watch, but was shortened to avoid comparisons in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida. Ben Stiller plays the uptight straight-version of himself (as opposed to his jerky Zoolander role which inhabits the other half of his characters), who is a community activist and manager at a local Costco. When an employee is mysteriously murdered at his store, he forms a neighborhood watch group to look into the killing and to hopefully prevent other crimes from happening.
All four actors play to the familiar, with Vaughn possessing a sharp-tongue and a dim-wit, and Hill stamping his usual brand of comedy on his character. The oddball of the group is Ayoade, known best perhaps as Moss on the TV show, The IT Crowd. None of these guys particular work well in combination, but you get the sense that this film was more of an “open mic night,” where seasoned comedians just kind of show up to try out their latest material on a fresh audience.
It is not a spoiler to say that aliens end up being the problem, and these aliens exist only to take over the Earth, as most aliens do. Towards the end, we get intense action sequences starring well-known comedians. The meshing of the genres doesn’t work well the way other films may have in the past. I’m thinking recently of the sci-fi comedy Paul, which was a send-up of the sci-fi genre, and hilariously done. The Watch is not really poking fun at other sci-fi movies, it is striving to be one.
Throw in a subplot where Stiller and his wife (played by Rosemarie DeWitt) are battling the ability to have children, and it makes you wonder just what the point was of this whole thing.
Most of the comedy is uninspired too, which is never good. The film relies way to heavily on penis jokes and shock value, and while some of it gets some laughs, it wears thin pretty quickly.
The Watch won't go down in history as any of these actor's finest moments on film, but it is a passable comedy...a throw-away film sure to be lost in the Summer shuffle.
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