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20th Century Fox // R // July 27, 2012
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Anrdoezrs]
Due to the unfortunate case revolving around the death of Trayvon Martin, 20th Century Fox changed the title of their sci-fi comedy from Neighborhood Watch to The Watch. This feature could have benefited from a lot more changes than just the title. Judging by the trailers, the movie itself isn't going to sell very many seats based on just the clips. The ensemble cast of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade will probably be the leading reason moviegoers might see this in theaters. Out of the entire cast, I'm most confused as to why Jonah Hill would be attracted to such a script, especially after he starred in 21 Jump Street. This flick has the word 'inadequate' written all over it. There's a real problem with a comedy when it borders the line of being unfunny.
A group of men living in the suburbs form a neighborhood watch group to escape from their families and problems at home after a security guard is murdered in the local Costco. When the group discovers an alien plot to destroy Earth, they make it their mission to uncover the aliens hidden in the town and stop the detonation. Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller) is the leader of the group. His wife, Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt), wants children, but Evan is sterile and cannot have kids. He's nervous to confront her, so he uses The Watch as a way to avoid the problem. Bob Finnerty (Vince Vaughn) spies on his teenage daughter in order to control her dating life, but wishes to join The Watch to get away with his friends to have time without worrying about his daughter. The third member of the group is Franklin (Jonah Hill), who has serious emotional issues after being rejected after trying to become a police officer. The final man in the group is Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade), who joins The Watch in order to make friends and attract women.
The first thing that came to my mind when I heard about this premise was just how many times audiences have been introduced to similar concepts. This feature borrows a lot of plot elements from Hot Fuzz and Attack the Block. However, the execution of The Watch isn't as good as either of those movies. Instead, we're introduced to a sub-plot that doesn't fit, which centers around Evan being sterile and wanting to be able to get his wife pregnant. It's out of place and is completely unnecessary in the grande scheme of the plot. Fortunately, the Bob's sub-plot, which follows him spying on his teenage daughter, is decent. The father and daughter interactions work, especially earlier in the story. As the plot continues, this story element is rushed and becomes a horrible cliché.
The entire purpose of a comedy is to make viewers laugh. The Watch is a failure in its goal. While there are some chuckle-worthy moments, the majority of the feature just isn't the laugh-out-loud type of humor that audiences hope for. The film tries too hard to be funny, extending some jokes for far too long, such as when Evan kills an alien and continues to shoot it repeatedly for what feels like minutes. The "humor" also reuses some of the same jokes multiple times by simply rewording them. When a comedy is trying this hard to make you laugh, it wears out its welcome rather quickly.
Throughout all of Ben Stiller's career, I have never been a fan of his work. He plays the role of Evan, who is the exact same type of character that he always is, and still does a bad job at it. Stiller just isn't funny. Vince Vaughn also performs in the same type of character that we're used to, but he's bearable. Jonah Hill is actually solid as Franklin. He provides the majority of the chuckle-humor. Richard Ayoade delivers the remainder of these moments as Jamarcus. Without Ayoade and Hill, The Watch would have been intolerable.
While this is primarily a science fiction comedy, there's some action in the final act of the film. The aliens are hidden for the majority of the screen time, but are shown more often towards the end. The creature designs look a lot like they attempted to combine elements from the predator in the Arnold Schwarzenegger action film and one of the aliens from District 9. It's extremely unoriginal. Audiences are also treated to multiple slo-mo cliché walks to rap music, which feels extremely repetitive. Despite the fact that The Watch has a relatively big budget for a comedy, the visuals are disappointing.
If you're a fan of Stiller, Vaughn, Hill, or Ayoade, don't allow their presence to fool you to spend money on this. The script is oozing with clichés and horrid jokes. The movie is guilty of trying too hard to be funny, which is a complete turn-off. The highlights of the cast are Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade, and even they struggle to keep the film afloat. I'm unsure how Ben Stiller still has a career, since he's still playing the exact same character as he always does. The appearance of the aliens isn't much better. This is yet another uninspired component of the film where they couldn't even create a unique alien design. The Watch is a comedy with a very small amount of humor. Skip it.
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