One lame film . . . two reviews
Alyn Darnay’s review:
I came, I saw, I laughed, and then I forgot it. That’s how you have to tackle Ben Stiller’s newest film “The Watch”. You go for the few Big Laughs, chuckle at the smaller ones, and forget about the superficial plot. This one is far from Stiller’s best, certainly not in the league of the Museum Films. Really the true joy in the film is watching the four main characters (Stiller, Vaughn, Hill, and Avoade) inter-act. They are obviously friends in real life, having a great time making a film together. It’s sad that it doesn’t all work the way they thought it would.
Here’s the story line: Stiller, the manager of a small town Costco Store somewhere in Ohio, returns to open his store one morning only to find his friend the night watchman dead, sans skin. He forms a Neighborhood Watch Group with three other mundane losers to solve and avenge the murder. When they accidentally discover that their town has become overrun with aliens posing as ordinary suburbanites, they have no choice but to save their neighborhood (and the world) from alien extermination.
A less than brilliant concept, that could have used a comic writer or two to redraft it a few more times before the camera’s started rolling. I fault director Akiva Schaffer with the result, because even though the interchanges between actors (Stiller & Vaughn for example) are sharp and fast and work well, the overall timing of the film needed work, it’s too stilted to maintain the comedic level it struggles to rise to. There are too many starts and stops in the forward motion to really get into the action.
As with all these stupid and insipid films, there is some inspired humor at work here to save the film from being an exercise in ‘time-suck’. The performers, most comedy film veterans, do the best with what they have to work with. I particularly enjoyed Jonah Hill, who is having a blast here as the misunderstood, brain deficit pseudo bad boy, trying to look worse with a flipping knife. I should also mention Richard Avoade whose character is a study of uncomfortable, bumbling, and distracted loser.
If you’re looking for a quick laugh or two, and you don’t mind waiting for them, or if watching Stiller and Vaughn act dumb does it for you, then this is your film. If you don’t like either option, wait for the DVD release.
Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller) is a very busy man as a manager of Costco and his community career as a club starter. Managing various clubs including the Running Club and the German Club, it’s no surprise that he becomes the catalyst to starting a new group by forming the neighborhood watch after a gruesome murder of a night security guard at the Costco he manages. Unfortunately, his new endeavor gets off to a shaky start as only three people show up: Bob (Vince Vaughn), who has an unruly teenaged daughter; Franklin (Jonah Hill), an emotionally disturbed police force reject; and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade), a recent divorcee who just wants his balls sucked by an asian woman. To make matters worse, none of them seem too interested in Evan’s vision, and instead are determined to drink and hang out in Bob’s man cave.
If you’ve seen the previews, then you already know they get more than they bargain for when they discover an alien conspiracy set to go off right in the middle of their beloved town. I won’t get too much further than that, because the story is pretty straight forward and not surprising in the least, even with the twist.
The four comedians played well off each other, powering through the story with their pooled comedic talents. Stiller, as always, has the straight man down, while Vaughn and Hill’s frantic stylings left plenty of room for Ayoade’s flavor. If you haven’t heard of Richard Ayoade before, you should check out The IT Crowd.
While there were funny moments in The Watch, it falls way short of Stiller’s other comedic offerings like Meet the Parents or There’s Something About Mary, and is more in line with Zoolander, though not quite as ridiculous. It’s sad, really, considering two thirds of the writers were involved in Pineapple Express and the final third had a hand in Bolt – two movies I really enjoyed. Is this movie a turd? I’d say not. You could definitely do worse in theatres, especially if Ted’s still playing anywhere near you. I know I’d rather watch a foul-mouthed teddy bear than what amounted to a 101 minute ad for Costco.