Film Review: The Watch
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Writer: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Jared Stern
Cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade
After the murder of his night time security guard at Costco, Evan (Ben Stiller) forms a neighborhood watch to catch the culprit only to find that his hometown is the center of an alien invasion.
At first glance, this was a comedy I wasn’t going to give a chance. The concept of a movie about neighborhood watchmen just didn’t sound appealing at all and the title gave off the impression that this would be a family comedy despite the likes of Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill starring in the movie. When the first trailer came out and a little more of the plot was revealed to include an alien invasion, it piqued my interest a bit despite the absurdity of the whole concept. The movie would really be sink or swim on whether they could sell me on the whole thing, but when all was said and done, I found myself enjoying this comedy.
The cast was a big question for me going into the movie. I’m not the biggest Ben Stiller fan when he plays the straight man, but I’ve loved him when he plays the over-the-top kind of characters like White Goodman from Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, where he teamed up with cast mate Vince Vaughn. Vaughn, on the other hand, has been an actor I haven’t really liked at all since the aforementioned Dodgeball film, so I found it to be a pleasant surprise that I liked him a lot in this movie. His usual overbearing demeanor was actually likable for me in this movie because of how complimentary he made his character to Ben Stiller’s straight man.
Jonah Hill’s last ventures in comedy was 50/50 after coming off a strong performance in 21 Jump Street, but also a terrible one in The Sitter. Thankfully, this film has him leaning more towards the former than the latter. He’s given enough to separate this character from his previous roles while maintaining his usual shtick, which is what has made him endearing to audiences and his fans alike.
Richard Ayoade was the biggest question mark for me. I had heard of him before, but I had never seen enough of his work to get a grasp of him and how he would fit into the movie. The Watch served as a nice first impression for him and I thought he was a solid addition to the cast, albeit slightly underused.
Like with most comedies, the biggest challenge is selling the film without revealing too much from the trailer. It often turns out to be the case that some of the film’s best gags and surprises are shown in the trailer, and The Watch also suffers from this affliction too. There are numerous gags in the movie that would have had a greater effect had I not been bombarded by them in trailers and TV advertisements for the movie. The film’s comedy as a whole is still consistent, but some of the movie’s bigger gags just didn’t have that oomph to push the movie over the top for me. There were no big laugh out loud moments, but the movie was consistent in its entertainment level the whole way through.
Now the movie does come with its fair share of flaws; namely, the way the film handles and builds up the revelation that there are aliens the rural suburban town in Ohio. The Watch spends quite a bit of time building itself up before the film reaches its climax. Though entertaining as it is to follow around the cast with their misadventures as the neighborhood watch, the aliens feel like a big afterthought once they get their time to shine. The big reveal at the climax also doesn’t help the movie in this area as it feels like it was pulled out of nowhere. One last thing I want to point out is the film’s setting in a suburban mid-west town. The intro to the film feels like a joke that went nowhere and was most likely edited out of the movie after probably coming off as racist.
Lastly, the whole inclusion of aliens is what will make or break the movie for you. I stated it earlier, but it is something that is entirely dependent on the audience member. If you can take in the absurdity of regular neighborhood watchmen fighting off aliens, then this movie won’t bother you. If you can buy into it, it’s a fun little comedy that’s entertaining the whole way through. There’s a lot left to be desired about the aliens and explaining their background, but hey, this is a comedy and not a true science fiction film.
Overall, The Watch was an entertaining film. It was much better than I thought it would be despite lacking in the laugh out loud department. The cast was solid and they kept the movie rolling along for its entire hour and forty-two run time. There was some great chemistry between the actors, and in a summer with only a few comedies, The Watch is a nice little addition after a heavy film like The Dark Knight Rises.
GO Rating: 3/5