Review: The Watch.
I’m a huge fan of the last generation of Vince Vaughn/Ben Stiller comedies like Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers, and Zoolander. That was an amazing era for R-rated comedies. So when I saw that they were teaming up with Jonah Hill to come out with The Watch, I was pretty stoked. The premise was a little weird but the humor looked to harken back to better days.
The basic gist is that Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and (relative unknown) Richard Ayoade team up to form a neighborhood watch to protect a small town. Well, things get crazy when they discover that their small town is the center of a supposed alien invasion. But who will believe them? No one. So they have to take the fight into their own hands.
It’s good to see these guys together again. Stiller is the reliable “straight man” in this scenario, reacting to the outlandish behavior of Vaughn, Hill, and Ayoade. Vaughn still has his go-to style and it seems like his funniest bits were likely improvised. Hill pulls off ridiculous lines with a straight-face and Ayoade brings a more witty English style of humor. Together, they’ve got definite chemistry.
I was also surprised at much this movie actually focused on aliens. The effects are pretty incredible and there’s some genuinely suspenseful bits that had me holding my breath. The director of this film was Akiva Schaffer (one of the guys famous for being in The Lonely Island with Andy Samberg). There’s a cameo of the three Lonely Island guys that is actually pretty disturbing.
What doesn’t work?
The movie is trying to do two things and it doesn’t do either exceptionally well. On one-hand, it’s an R-rated comedy that ventures into some outlandish and bizarre territory in order to get a rise out of the audience. However it’s not nearly as funny as I was expecting, considering the cast and the fact that it was co-written by Seth Rogen. It usually tries too hard to shock and awe. And while Vaughn is hilarious while improvising, his constant interruptions and 2 cents into every scene becomes more of an annoyance than anything else. The movie also tries to be a suspenseful alien film but it doesn’t do anything incredibly creative in terms of plot or technique. It’s a predictable ending and doesn’t really leave you satisfied.
It’s not a good sign when jokes fall flat and you find yourself thinking about wasted opportunities while the movie is still playing.
The Watch is an enjoyable movie if you’re just looking for something kind of light and funny, but it’s predictable and doesn’t offer anything new. It’s not even in the same league as previous outings by these cast members so you’d be better off renting movies like Superbad, Wedding Crashers, or Dodgeball. Some of the jokes land but there are definite flops that should’ve been left on the cutting room floor but the movie often went for the shock and awe joke over the witty and subtle humor that might’ve worked for these actors in other endeavors. This movie might entertain you for a few hours but it’s a forgettable outing that you likely won’t ever watch again.