The Watch Movie Review
After a mysteriously gruesome murder inside the local Costco, a group of domesticated suburbanites decide to take action and form a Neighborhood Watch. The ragtag group of harmless peeps consists of a few of Hollywoods funniest comedic actors in Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade. However, little do they know, their fun little Neighborhood Watch goes from catching skateboarding punks to defending the world from an alien invasion in THE WATCH.
Formerly known as Neighborhood Watch, THE WATCH is directed by one third of the SNL musical group The Lonely Island. Previously directing and writing many Saturday Night Live sketches and digital shorts, mostly notably the viral sensation Lazy Sunday, Akiva Schaffer directs his second feature film since HOT ROD. While I’m sure the script from Jared Stern, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg was a blast to write, I think THE WATCH might be funnier on paper. Both the direction and the writing seemed to rely heavily on its actors, hoping they would improvise the movie to success. The entire film felt ad-libbed and while there were several laugh out loud moments, there were equally missed opportunities of jokes falling flat or simply being non-existent.
Nonetheless, all the success THE WATCH is able to squeeze out, belongs to our four leads. Ben Stiller (TOWER HEIST) is Evan, the uptight leader who is dedicated to making whatever organization he starts, whether it be a running club or Spanish club, succeed. Evan has a special investment into the Neighborhood Watch because the murder takes place in the Costco of which he is the senior manager. Plus, the victim was his hispanic security guard, for which met Evan’s multicultural friend quota. The next man of the group is Vince Vaughn’s (THE DILEMMA) Bob. Just wanting to hangout, drink and have a good time with some guys away from his family, Bob is a husband and father of a teenage daughter. Jonah Hill (21 JUMP STREET) plays Franklin, a high school dropout and police force failure who still lives with his mother. Rounding out Evan’s ethnic friend check list, Richard Ayoade plays Jamarcus, a divorcee hoping the Neighborhood Watch will score him some ladies. The four of these funny men can make even the most unbearable film bearable. Thankfully, along with some extremely strong supporting work from Will Forte as an unqualified cop and Billy Crudup as a creepy neighbor, our main stars make the most of what they are given.
THE WATCH has a lot of potential in its initial premise but strangely veers from a relatable comedy to odd science fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate off the wall twists as much as the next but the switch from an observational comedy to an alien battle film gets lost in the execution. After adding an unnecessary story line about Evan’s inability to have children and reaching for that hard R-rating, THE WATCH seems to be an unfinished product that continued to make wrong choices. Every serious conversation between Evan and his wife brings the film to a screeching halt, not adding an ounce of humor.
While the plot points and story twists have zero elements of surprise, THE WATCH is still able to maintain a certain charm. But these funny moments are fleeting and due strictly to the natural comedic talent of the actors. I’m not saying you won’t laugh but I am saying you will probably forget that you did.