THE WATCH (2012)
THE WATCH (2012)
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One! Four Dumb Guys Find An Alien…
Review by Kelly Laymon
It’s been a rough week or so for cinema and film nerds. On top of the massacre in Colorado at THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012), THE WATCH carries some unfortunate connotations. Originally titled NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH, the studio changed the title and original ad campaign due to the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida back in late February. And there are some lines I laughed at due to how ill-fitting they were in light of recent events. (They were funny lines that will still be funny once we’re a bit more removed from the situation, but this was more of a cringe-laugh.) Especially some scenes that relate to Jonah Hill’s character, who is a local police academy reject.
That being said, the plot of THE WATCH has little to do with reality. Ben Stiller plays the manager of a Costco store where the overnight watchman has been murdered in an unusual fashion. This is where Stiller slips into his semi-regular character of The Uptight Control Freak Guy Who’s Obsessed With Fitness and starts a local neighborhood watch chapter. The turn-out of rag-tag weirdos…you can see them coming up Sunset Boulevard.
Vince Vaughn also slips into his almost-constant character of The Fast Talking Wise-Ass Who Just Wants To Party, Baby. And, of course, Jonah Hill as the angry young police academy reject and pervy cop wannabe. There are subtle jokes about how helpful it is to have a man of color, Richard Ayoade, rounding out the team.
They bust some silly teens, party, bond, get made fun of by the local PD, etc., as they close in on what turns out to be an alien conspiracy, which is occurring in the basement of the Costco. To say much more about the plot isn’t really necessary. The humor comes from four dopey guys acting like The Hardy Boys, and their throwaway lines. When the guys in a film like this talk and reason with situations like me and my buddies would, I have a good time.
To be honest, I went in expecting a slightly better version of an Adam Sandler flick. I was wrong. This is actually pretty funny. It’s not the kind of comedy that’s going to strike an emotional chord. Nothing much will resonate with real life and you probably won’t develop a deeper appreciation for it with repeated viewings. It’s not FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (2008), THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN (2005), TED (2012) or FUNNY PEOPLE (2009). That being said, it’s still solid entertainment. I’d put it on at one of my small gatherings for background laughs.
Okay. Let’s start with the good: the cast. As I hinted at earlier, everyone plays to their strengths and types, especially Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill. I run hot and cold on Stiller, mostly cold. However, it’s no secret that I enjoy Vaughn and Hill a great deal. If Vaughn only ever really plays varying versions of Trent from SWINGERS (1996), I’ll still be smiling. Hill’s had an up and down year, what with an Oscar nomination for MONEYBALL (2011), the slightly-better-than-mediocre THE SITTER (2011), and some decent success with the 21 JUMP STREET (2012) adaptation. Having only been aware of Richard Ayoade by name only, I didn’t know what to expect from him. I am now a fan.
The bad? Well, my favorite incarnation of “the anti-funny,” Will Forte, has a small role. Why is he in every movie or TV show I watch? When will we all agree that this guy is NOT funny? Haven’t half of my reviews been marred by having to mention this guy? He’s about as funny as stepping on a broken bottle at the beach.
Also on the bad side: two fairly unnecessary plotlines that didn’t add much humor to the overall film. In fact, the two subplots tried to add unnecessary depth to a film that should have just relied on the humor and the strengths of the cast members. The subplots? Vaughn has an ongoing feud with his teenage daughter about…teenage daughter issues, while Stiller and his wife (played by Rosemarie DeWitt) are suffering from infertility. Sure, these subplots grab some laughs, but they aren’t needed.
I’ll give this a loose three and a half knives. With a different cast, it could’ve been awful. But Vaughn’s party boy and Hill’s loose cannon make it worth it. If you don’t like those two guys and their style, you might prefer something else.
© Copyright 2012 by Kelly Laymon
Kelly Laymon gives THE WATCH ~three and a half knives.