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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > The Watch

MOVIE REVIEWS

THE WATCH (2012)

Starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt, Will Forte, Mel Rodriguez, Doug Jones, Erin Moriarty, Nicholas Braun, R. Lee Ermey and Joe Nunez.

Screenplay by Jared Stern and Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg.

Directed by Akiva Schaffer.

Distributed by 20th Century Fox.  98 minutes.  Rated R.

 

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The Watch

I don't know what is more pathetic about The Watch: the tone deaf unfunny attempts at comedy, the ridiculous and just plain awful science fiction subplots or the flailing flop sweat of four talented comic actors (five, if you count Rosemarie DeWitt's supporting role) who realize that they are stuck in a project that is historically bad, but they have to try to sell it.

The story – as if it matters – has an anal retentive Costco manager named Evan (Ben Stiller) starting a town watch in Glenview, Ohio, when his friend (and night watchman) is violently killed.  Unfortunately, the only volunteers he can find are Bob (Vince Vaughn), a goofy overgrown party boy looking for a boy's night, Franklin (Jonah Hill), a slightly mental wannabe cop and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade), an affable hanger-on who fantasizes about having his balls sucked.  (Ayoade is a British comedian and director who first hooked up with Stiller when Stiller executive produced Ayoade's film Submarine, which came out last year.)

The neighborhood watch is not taken seriously – for obvious reasons – by the neighborhood or local law enforcement, as represented as a patronizing local cop (Will Forte of Saturday Night Live).  However, when they aren't getting arrested for drinking beer in their car, being egged by local juveniles or run off at rifle point by an old local curmudgeon (R. Lee Ermey), these ridiculous guys somehow stumble upon an alien plot to take over the town and then the world.

Yes, in this film's world, an alien invasion is going to start in Glenview, Ohio.

And of course, the center of the invasion is the Costco.

Yawn.

It's sort of an American, all-star version of last year's minor British hit Attack the Block, without all the laughs or the scares.

A huge part of the problem is that everyone we meet in this small town are such annoying assholes – in particular our heroes, who are each amazingly irritating in their own ways – that we don't really have a problem with the aliens killing them all.

Meanwhile there are a whole host of silly subplots: Evan's inability to impregnate his amazingly patient wife (Rosemary DeWitt), Bob's bordering on creepy determination to keep his teen daughter (Erin Moriarty) chaste, Evan's disconcerting and possibly gay neighbor (Billy Crudup).  Several of these plot threads have no resolution at all, and when one does actually lead somewhere, the destination is usually unrealistic, patronizing and rewards the members of the Watch for their ridiculous behavior. 

And the aliens?  They are slimy and ugly and apparently bloodthirsty, but... well... if they can't fight off these four arrested development losers, then they don't deserve to take over the Earth.

In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin killing this awkward premise feels even more off.  The studio realized this – abbreviating the original title The Neighborhood Watch to the more streamlined The Watch – but it still feels like a really bad time to be celebrating neighborhood vigilantes.  This unfortunate coincidence just makes a scene in which the watch keep shooting rounds of bullets into the carcass of an obviously dead alien feel even more horrific.  Granted, current events are out of the control of the filmmakers, but couldn't they have postponed the release for about six months or so? 

Better yet, they could have shit-canned the movie completely.  No one would have missed it.  It's only July, but if a worse film is made this year, I'll be shocked and disappointed in the movie industry.  Come to think of it, after The Watch, I already am.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: July 27, 2012.

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Copyright ©2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: July 27, 2012.

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