‘Watch’ out for hit-or-miss laughs


Courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/thewatchmovie.

No Need to Watch “The Watch”

Courtesy of http://www.facebook.com/thewatchmovie.


Collaboration of colossal comedic talents can be a fun box office draw. But, occasionally, the resulting film can feel lazy, phoned in and half baked. “The Watch” is one such film.

After invading a Costco, a group of aliens looks to take over the world, starting with suburban Ohio. Evan (Ben Stiller), an over-active go-getter, community organizer and Costco manager decides to form a neighborhood watch, but the fun-loving Bob (Vince Vaughn), the troubled, failed cop Franklin (Jonah Hill), and the awkward Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) are the only men who step up to the job.

Boasting the likes of Stiller, Vaughn and Hill, “The Watch” looked to be a fun riff on sci-fi home invasions. While the actors look to be having fun, with Vaughn spewing out his manic ramblings and Stiller returning to Greg Focker territory, “The Watch” lacks inspiration.

Instead of splitting your side, “The Watch” wields a dull knife. It is almost immediately forgettable with no significant payoff. Most of the best comedic sequences are spoiled in the trailer. The rest of the jokes rely on references to male genitalia.

This is not altogether surprising, however, given that “The Watch” comes from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the writing team behind “Superbad.” Like Rogen’s own comedy, most of the asides and references in “The Watch” feel unsure and insecure.

“The Watch” had an opportunity to set itself apart. I could have been a comment on American masculinity, consumerism or suburbia, but these ideas are only fleeting references. In addition, R. Lee Emery and Rosemarie DeWitt are woefully underused. Emery is an immediately recognizable character actor (the drill sergeant from “Full Metal Jacket”). But he’s only given one scene. Who would not have loved to seem him waste aliens while rattling off gruff one-liners. Likewise, DeWitt is a funny and talented actress, but is isolated in the supportive wife role here. She briefly takes up a gun and joins the guys, but quickly fades into the background.

Hill and Vaughn are fun to watch, but most of the film’s supporting cast and plot turns are lacking any imagination. Similarly, Akiva Schaffer of SNL’s Loney Island fame fails to add any zest to the film’s direction, which just goes to prove that “The Watch” was better left as a short comedy sketch.