The Watch (2012) / Comedy-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: R for some strong sexual content including references, pervasive language and violent images
Running time: 102 min.
Cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt, Will Forte, Mel Rodriguez, Erin Moriarty, Billy Crudup, Doug Jones, Nicholas Braun, R. Lee Ermey
Cameo: Andy Samberg
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Screenplay: Jared Stern, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Review published July 26, 2013
In the sci-fi comedy, The Watch, Ben Stiller (Little Fockers, The Heartbreak Kid) stars as Evan Trautwig, a manager at an Glenville, Ohio Costco (to which this film seems to be an advertisement for) where one of the guards in his employ is viciously torn apart by what the police suspect must be wild animals.
Evan knows better, though, so he forms his own 'neighborhood watch' group which includes the motor-mouthed Bob (Vaughn, Fred Claus), wannabe cop Franklin (Hill, The Invention of Lying), and a new guy in town, Jamarcus (Ayoade, "The IT Crowd"). Evan is gung ho, but the other three seem to only want to join "The Watch" as a reason to get out and drink with their buddies. However, they get a bit more serious when they discover that the strange events going on in the town are caused by none other than malevolent aliens from outer space, and they're the last line of defense for not only Glenview, but perhaps the entire world.
Lazy screenwriting is the bane of this misfire, which relies on ad-libs from its cast to try to get over the hump when there aren't enough funny ideas to propel it to the finish. Not that the film is devoid of laughs, as these are quite some funny guys, and they manage to get a few solid laughs in spots here and there. The main problem with the film isn't the cast or lack of laughs so much as the lack of good ideas once the screenwriters, which includes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (The Green Hornet, Superbad) , determined to make the film around an alien invasion of a small Midwestern town. Had this just been about a group of slackers who get together to thwart two-bit crooks in town, this might have flown, but by going the distance to include a world invasion, the comedic value doesn't match the heights of its premise, and momentum hits a proverbial brick wall whenever the actual alien showdown takes center stage.
When the comedy is working, it should seem effortless; The Watch comes off as desperate for laughs all too often. The alien invasion story offers very little to play up for laughs, as the men can only dole out semen-and-phallus-based humor to introduce to the outlandish premise. The Watch isn't an easy watch.
©2013 Vince Leo