The romantic story was nothing new unfortunately, and when it dominated the non-cinephile parts the film kinda dragged. The story of the quiet geek who is unwittingly broken out of his shell by the wild, free-spirited girl is old hat by now. (Or as the A.V. Club refers to her…the “manic pixie dream girl.”) And while a cute chick who doesn’t mind when you gripe about who shot first, Han or Greedo, is surely every introverted geek’s dream, there’s only so much you can do before it becomes a cliché, and WATCHING THE DETECTIVES didn’t exactly break the mold.
A large issue is that Lucy Liu’s character, the romantic centerpiece, is borderline annoying. I think around the fifteenth time she knowingly tricked the main character I decided that if I was in his place, she would not be worth the trouble, no matter how cute and Asian she is. Liu does well in the role, it’s just the way the character is written. I did enjoy Cillian Murphy, who finally gets a chance to lighten up a bit as the movie geek. Its almost refreshing.
Extra Tidbit: “Watching the Detectives” is also the name of an Elvis Costello song about a girl who prefers watching TV to other girlfriendly activities.