Review: The Watch
PLOT: Evan (Ben Stiller) is the manager of a small-town Costco, who forms a neighbourhood watch, along with fellow suburbanites Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill), and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). Together, they uncover an alien conspiracy that not only threatens their town- but the whole world. Da-da-DUM!
REVIEW: Lord knows, after last week's tragic events, we could sure use a nice, cheeky comedy to lighten us all up, but despite a fun premise, and a strong core cast, THE WATCH is far too uneven to fit the bill. This should have been a slam-dunk, with Stiller and Vaughn already having worked reasonably well together in DODGEBALL, and Hill and Ayoade both riding career highs. Sadly, THE WATCH never comes together- veering from painfully bland and unfunny, to the occasional chuckle. Belly laughs are mostly absent.
Rather than another alien invasion comedy, ATTACK THE BLOCK, THE WATCH is most reminiscent of the 2001 misfire EVOLUTION, with loads of goo and special effects, but few real laughs. It's hard to figure out why THE WATCH doesn't work, as it's got a screenplay by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen- who are exactly the kind of guys you'd want writing this kind of thing. To boot, it's directed by The Lonely Island's Akiva Schaffer, whose previous film, HOT ROD is an under-appreciated little gem (to me anyways).
Straight-jacketed into the confines of a big-studio comedy, Schaffer's more idiosyncratic flourishes are mostly absent here, with THE WATCH unfolding in the same way it would under any reasonably competent studio director. Despite running only ninety minutes, THE WATCH feels really drawn out- with the filmmakers seemingly having a hard time determining what kind of film they're making here- MEN IN BLACK, or THE 'BURBS. It ultimately comes off as a bit of a half-assed hybrid. It's too slick and CGI filled to really work as a comedy (low-tech is better than hi-tech unless you're making GHOSTBUSTERS), but with too little time spent on the alien aspect to make it work as sci-fi. In the last act- Shaffer bombards us with gore, gunplay, and explosions, but it's all too generic to be impressive- and more importantly, it's not funny at all.
Along with the inconsistent tone, it feels like most of the script was just jettisoned to let everyone just do their thing- with gives us rather mixed results. Ben Stiller really seems to be struggling here, with him giving us the same old-schtick, that's just about reached the breaking point nowadays, and his mugging comes across as kinda desperate. Vince Vaughn, who's coming off a really bad run of movies, is marginally funnier here than he was in THE DILEMMA, but again- it's just more of the same old thing, although at least he manages to wring out some laughs now that he's freed from the constraints of PG-13. Hill and Ayoade take a back seat to Stiller and Vaughn, but manage to pull in a few solid laughs here and there- although this is no doubt a paycheck job for all involved, and it shows.
Still, THE WATCH isn't awful- or, at least, outside the first 15 minutes it isn't. I laughed a few times, and I'm sure it's not a bad watch on Netflix on a rainy Sunday afternoon. At least the R-rating gives it a little raunch, although other than some brief nudity and scattered f-bombs, the rating seems to be mostly for gore, which is a waste. Overall, this isn't a really bad movie- rather, it's just a mediocre one.
|Extra Tidbit:||Only in Hollywood can a Costco manager own a home that looks like it cost millions.|