STARRING: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah
Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt
2012, 136 Minutes, Directed by:
year saw an attempt to cross the science fiction film with the western with
Cowboys and Aliens. This year we get The
Watch, mixing the moron guy comedy with yet another alien invasion story.
It’s The Hangover meets Attack the Block.
The result is a movie unlikely to please fans of either . . .
Ben Stiller is Evan, a manager
at a local big box store. He’s an organizer in his community who sees himself as
a do-gooder even if it’s a way for him to avoid the real issues in his life.
When an employee is murdered
under mysterious circumstance he forms a neighborhood watch. The three guys who
show up to the organizational meeting are each cartoonish in their own right.
Bob (Vince Vaughn) is the loud,
overly friendly neighbor who sees this as an opportunity to drink beer with a
bunch of the guys. Franklin (Jonah Hill) is a somewhat creepy high school
dropout who flunked the police physical and written exams and possible the
mental health screen as well. Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) is quirky Brit who
thinks answering the calls of his neighbors might help him fulfill a sexual
Much of the first part of the
film has them acting out, whether it’s drinking beer, running down a
skateboarder who egged them, or engaging in raunchy humor. Then it becomes clear
that the murderer is not of this world, leading to such witticisms as a running
joke as to whether alien goo found at the scene feels like human ejaculate.
There is actually an extended scene exploring the nuances of this very lame
"If you think a guy urinating into an empty soda can is funny, then
you'll have a great time . . ."
When we see the aliens it’s
clear that special effects guys are still under the influence of H. R. Giger’s
landmark designs for
Alien. One can see where this might have worked a lot better if the science
fiction elements were upfront rather than a seeming afterthought. (A brief
prologue starts in space but only to lead us to how much Evan loves his suburban
One of the funniest moments in
the film – indicating where it might have gone – is when the guys seem to have
killed an alien and decide to take souvenir photos with the corpse. At that
moment the comedy is in the service of the plot rather than just the usual
horny, drunk guys bantering.
The performances are above par
for this sort of movie, with Vaughn playing the overly protective father of a
teenage daughter to good effect and Ayoade – who has done mostly British
television – proving offbeat as the new neighbor. Stiller plays his usual
nebbish, while Hill may give the most troublesome performance. It’s going to be
a while before the character of a troubled dropout with a fondness for dangerous
weapons is not going to be a reminder of recent events.
The Watch is lowest
denominator comedy. If you think a male neighbor telling Evan he has “nice skin”
is the height of hilarity or, better yet, a guy urinating into an empty soda
can, then you’ll have a great time.
If you’re more curious how well
the moron comedy and the alien invasion film work together let’s put it like
this: as well as chocolate syrup goes with sushi.