Rating: 3 stars out of 5
A buddy movie mashed up with an alien invasion theme, ‘The Watch’ tries to pass vulgarity as wit. The laughs don’t come by very often, despite the talented cast, which makes this all the more disappointing, but there are enough humorous moments in here to give it some credibility.
Store manager Evan (Ben Stiller) is angered by the murder of a security guard. He rounds up three other guys for his neighbourhood watch. Bossy Bob (Vince Vaughn), failed cop Franklin (Jonah Hill) and transplanted Englishman Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade).
As they patrol about and get into all kinds of trouble, they find out that there is an alien invasion in their small town. The team bands together to stop the aliens, if only they could stop tripping over each other and making dirty jokes.
‘The Watch’ has suffered quite a troubled history, with a name change and a shit in marketing after the Trayvon Martin case, but it’s hard to blame that for the hit and miss result.
There’s plenty of male bonding and sex jokes, and the setup is reminiscent of ‘Ghostbusters’, which also combined horror and comedy elements, but ‘The Watch’ does not have the fluidity of the former. Everything seems to stop as the quartet play out a joke, and some of the humour is lazy, rather than uproarious.
Part of the screenplay comes from Seth Rogen, and lacks the insight and sharpness of his better films.
The comedy is often lazy; do we need another sing along in the car? That’s one gag that’s outlived its welcome. Director Akiva Schaffer, who worked on Digital Shorts for SNL, stretches out some other jokes pass their sell-by date, such as a photo session with a supposedly dead alien. The scenes are head-scratching, with plot turns that hardly even bother to try.
It’s a pity that Ayoade, who is superb in the British TV series ‘The IT Crowd’, has his American debut in this limp comedy. Even Hill, riding high since his role in the highly-regarded ‘Moneyball’, seems to have taken a step back here. Stiller does his usual nice guy caught at the wrong time schtick, while Vaughn, with his aggressive humour, does little new.
The aliens look like a standard amalgam of insect parts with green goo for blood, and are quite forgettable.
Undoubtedly, ‘The Watch’ is, like the splatter the alien corpses leave behind, a bit of a mess. The cast does manage to salvage the movie from totally crashing and burning, and Hill and Ayoade still make ‘The Watch’ worth watching.
Travis Wong is a film loving geek who got his start from frequenting video shops in JB. He frequented movie theaters more often than school, and received his cinematic epiphany when he watched 'Taxi Driver'. While not driving a cab, he haunts DVD shops, and he currently has the largest remaining collection of VHS tapes and Laserdiscs in the country.