With the goal of protecting their small town from an onslaught of ferocious, slimy aliens – Stiller, Vaughn, Hill and Ayoade deployed their kind of raunchy, R-rated humor from scribe Seth Rogen.
The film revolves around four everyday suburban guys that come together as an excuse to escape their humdrum lives one night a week. While on patrol one evening they accidentally discover that their town has become overrun with aliens posing as ordinary suburbanites. Evan (Ben Stiller) – a manager of a Costco who is always starting clubs in his community (mainly because he has no friends). Bob (Vince Vaughn) – a suburban dad who joins mostly because he’s excited to get out of the house and hang with some guys. Franklin (Jonah Hill) – who signs up after being rejected by the local police force due to emotional problems, and Richard Ayoade (“IT Crowd”, “Submarine”) who plays Jamarcus – a very complex man from England who envisions being able to get oral sex from lonely Asian women who hear sounds late at night. Having no choice but to save their neighborhood (and the world) – from total extermination, the “neighbourhood watch” jumps into action with a plan to take back the streets.
The idea behind a local neighborhood watch busting up an alien invasion is something that could bomb miserably if not put in the right hands. The film was originally titled “Neighborhood Watch” later shortened to “The Watch” (after being needlessly associated with the real world tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s shooting) – has all the elements of a great summer comedy (Stiller, Vaughn, Hill and Ayoade), which gives us the impression of comedy gold, but unfortunately is not the case. All the actors are experienced and when it comes to comedy the chemistry between them helps make the film a lot easier to enjoy. However, with a weak script, comes weak over the top nonsense. The Watch appears to hone in on this with numerous discussions devolving into overtly sexual gives and takes – alien semen, anal probing and Jonah Hill promising to pleasure an old man if it helps solve a mystery being just a few examples.
Normally I’m all about raunchy jokes and shameless comedy. The sex and violence quotient was especially dismaying to me. There is one scene that involves a large group of people in the midst of an orgy that leaves nothing to the imagination and while it is very funny at first, the jokes get old fast transforming to silly and over the top. The aliens in the film are very violent (which was a surprise), they have no issue with killing and splattering blood across the screen; however, the film didn’t have much originality and felt like a subplot to a movie we have all seen before. I kept asking myself- “When are Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones going to make their big entrance?” The Watch had lots of potential but didn’t utilize the talent they had. Ben Stiller (being Ben Stiller) played the same character he always does. If you want to know what happened to the security guard from Night at the Museum – he was fired, and then became a manager at a Costco. Vince Vaughn (as much as I think he’s funny) did his part, but he wasn’t strong enough to carry the whole film on his shoulders. Jonah Hill did the “rejected cop” routine well (but not 21 Jump Street well) – and finally Richard Ayoade, (who I love from “The IT Crowd”), with his impeccable timing is painfully underused and is really only given a few scenes to show his “Moss” brand of comedy on the big screen.
The silly antics of a buddy comedy mixing it up with a sci-fi alien story were a recipe for disaster. Although the cast contains a gifted core of comedians the film would have played better if they left out the alien theme and had Stiller, Vaughn, Hill and Ayoade, running around the neighbourhood causing ruckus while trying to uphold justice in a more “realistic” environment. Overall I give “The Watch” a 4/10.
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“The Watch”, is rated R for some strong sexual content including references, pervasive language and violent images. Running time: 100 minutes. In theatres everywhere July 27, 2012.