A film review by Craig J. Koban July 30, 2012
2012, R, 100 mins.
2012, R, 100 mins.
Evan: Ben Stiller /
Bob: Vince Vaughn /
Franklin Jonah Hill /
Jamarcus: Richard Ayoade /
Abby: Rosemarie DeWitt /
Sgt. Bressman: Will Forte /
Manfred: R. Lee Ermey
THE WATCH is one of those repulsively smug comedies that thinks itís a hell of a lot funnier than it actual is.
the relative A-grade comedic talent on board here, the film is
aggressively lacking in actual hearty laughs.
Hereís a would-be high concept sci-fi-comedy written by one of
the co-scribes of SUPERBAD and PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (Seth Rogen) and staring the
likes of Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Jonah Hill that feels not only
messily and lazily scripted, but forces its talent to wallow in scene
after scene of borderline infantile comic desperation.
THE WATCH should have been a proverbial grand slam home run for its
mish-mashed genre, but instead I left the theater after screening it truly
perplexed by its numbing mediocrity.
overall premise for the film of four adults from the suburbs that find
themselves involved in an alien invasion in their own neighborhood
seems to bare an uncanny resemblance to last yearís ATTACK THE BLOCK.
Yet, the alien angle in the film never feels like it
actually belongs in THE WATCH because it has less interest in telling a
compelling story involving these strange invaders than it does with
showing its stars in endless moments of improvisational Ė and shockingly
crude - shenanigans.
Thatís just one of the larger set of issues with this film: Very
rarely does it appear that the writers had any clue as to where the story
was heading, relying in its place on the appeal of the actors to guide
viewers through scenes of hopeful knee-slapping hilarity.
The overwhelmingly feeling I got all through the film was that
its proven stars have been stranded in a DOA screenplay and were forced
to bare the burden of carrying the lackluster material.
yet is that the film has the single worst and most egregiously obvious
usage of blatant product placement this side of a lamer than lame Adam
Ben Stiller plays Evan, a highly prideful and anal retentive Ohioan
Costco manager that gets deeply disturbed when one of his graveyard
shifted security men gets brutally murdered.
Predictably, the local police officers on scene (one played by Will
Forte, whose bumbling cop gets a few chuckles) are of absolutely no use at all, so Evan takes it upon himself to
form his own neighborhood watch group to uncover the real reason and perpetrator
behind his employeeís sudden death.
pleads his case at a local football game during half time (which never once
generates any comic momentum) and prepares an initial meeting at his home,
with detailed brochures and a slideshow.
Only three locals show up: thereís the hot-headed, impulsive, and
throw-caution-to-the-wind Bob (Vince Vaughn); Franklin (Jonah Hill), a
high school drop-out that never got into the police force and has a bone
to pick with life in general; and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) who just seems
to be a peculiar dude with perverted sexual proclivities.
These four mismatched men decide to make prowling their local areas
on a nightly basis their number one priority, but when the do discover
that the killer is not of this earth, the foursome realize that they have
they work cut out for them when it appears that the entire world may need
majority of the film feels like it was largely made up as it went along
without any concerns as to narrative intrigue or cohesion.
The aliens themselves seem like unwanted and regurgitated designs from
far lesser extra-terrestrial films (that, and the notion that they can
assume human form is one of the most overused and unoriginal ideas, like,
needs to be said about how director Akiva Shaffer (who made the very funny
HOT ROD) and his stars create scenes of
THE WATCH was original intended to be an audience-friendly PG-13
and then later morphed into a more adult-oriented R.
I have no problem, per se, with a foul and lewd film that is
unapologetically so, but the way THE WATCH methodically dishes out chronic
vulgarity, deplorable gross out gags, constant references to male and
female genitalia, and so forth shows a relative lack of inspiration in the
words donít bother me when they accentuate laughs, but this film
ostensibly uses them for laughs.
characters have filthy-minded discussions so often itís kind of a
depressing turn-off after awhile, which is not assisted by how often the
actors bellow out their lines as if the audience were all deaf (the
usually "money" Vince Vaughn is the film's big offender in this
There are scenes that go on and on and on and try to develop
satisfying comic payoff that never occurs.
Just consider one sequence Ė that the makers believe is a real
scream Ė when the guys all sit in Evanís car on a stakeout of the
motor mouthed Bob has to pee, and after discussing it at ad nauseam he
decides to urinate into an empty beer car, during which he describes in
pornographic detail how he can stop and start at will and how close he can
get the tip of his penis to the metal without spilling a drop.
Then there's a later scene when the
guys go to sickening lengths to describe how the alien's blood feels just
like one particular male bodily fluid that's neither urine or feces.
Silence filled the cinema that I was in while watching these scenes
and more; laughs, alas, were all but vacant.
exacerbate matters, THE WATCH inexcusably and unwisely throws in a few
unnecessary subplots of dramatic interest, which creates a really odd
disconnect from the type of bawdy material built around it.
There is one side-story that contributes nothing involving Evanís
wife (the fantastic Rosemary Dewitt, who frankly looks embarrassed here)
and how he keeps his sterility a secret from her.
Then there is Bobís insatiable need to be overprotective of his
daughter when sheís dating a preening and masochistic teen thatís
looking to score.
And donít get me started on one tired and failed subplot
involving Evanís new neighbor (played by Billy Crudup, in the great WTF?
casting of 2012) who seems to have an almost fetishistic appreciation for
Evanís muscle tone and skin type.
Evan thinks the man is gay, but then later thinks he may be an
The film predictably plays a highly foreseeable bit of bait and switch with Crudupís character with a potentially shocking and funny
reveal thatís simply neither of those two descriptors.
is one genuine laugh in THE WATCH that occurs during the filmís
action-packed climax where the gang is at Costco and decide that they need
walkie-talkies, but they pathetically fail at trying to quickly open their impossibly tight
plastic packaging in a moment of life or death.
That was funny.
And, yes, the film does at least build to a somewhat exciting
conclusion pitting multiple aliens versus hapless heroes deep within
the Costco catacombs (don't ask) that generates the filmís only legitimate hair-raising moment of
The rest of THE WATCH, though, is a dull, tired, half-assed, an
undisciplined homogenization of the alien invasion thriller with the
dick/fart/and bodily fluid obsessed bromance comedy that comes across like
it was penned by puerile 12-year-olds.
For Vaughn, Stiller, and Hill Ė who have been memorably
hysterical throughout their careers - the film has easy-paycheck written all
last thing: itís amazing that the studio decided to change the filmís
original title of NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH to just THE WATCH in the wake Trayvon
Martin being killed by an armed Floridian NW volunteer to avoid any
unflattering associations that could offend viewers.
Funny, but THE WATCH is not offensive for creating such
associations at all, but rather emerges as just an offensively bad film
and waste of time.