The Watch (Frank’s take).

Suburbia, Neanderthal-oriented male bonding and space aliens make for an uneven mix of naughty gags and tired lunacy in the clumsy comedy The Watch. Whether this is an unfair comparison or not The Watch feels like a weak-need knockoff to the classic high-spirited goofiness of Ghostbusters.

In assembling some of Hollywood’s high-profile hucksters and saddling them in a summertime silly-minded sci-fi laugher, The Watch hopes to gain instant credibility as a breezy blockbuster armed with cheap and suggestive chuckles. Director Akiva Schaffer (“Hot Rod” auteur and Andy Samberg’s partner-in-crime in those various Saturday Night Live digital short films) patches together the pap-ridden sequences in a pseudo-wacky wonderland of sketchy juvenile high-jinx. Planting a lazy eye on the even lazier The Watch is an exhaustive gesture to say the least.

The Watch movie review.
Watching for ET. Kicking his ass.

This tepid tale of an alien invasion upon a suburban neighborhood is highlighted by the forced outrageousness of moronic middle-agers out to protect the interests of their small-knit Ohioan community—if not the world—from space invaders looking to inflict chaos on the unsuspecting territory. Overwrought and underwhelming saucy jokes run amok in this predictable and petulant farce.

Costco store manager Evan (Ben Stiller) leads an uneventful existence in a dead end job and thankless marriage to wife Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt). Evan is active, however, in organizing several clubs and community-oriented events and activities. Evan is encouraged to set up a different kind of organized club in that of a neighborhood watch program for his Ohio-based cozy town. Of course this is based upon the discovery of his dead night shift store manager who was found drenched in a green slimy substance. Thus Evan has to act fast and seek out volunteers to populate his neighborhood watch program.

Naturally the so-called kooky characters that Evan musters up for this crime preventive group are the unlikeliness of heroic hooligans looking serve. Banal Bob (Vince Vaughn) is a “manly” moron in every sense of the world whose puzzling problem is containing his uncontrollable teenage daughter. Inept Franklin (Jonah Hill, “21 Jump Street”, “Moneyball”) is the aspiring law enforcer not worthy enough to make the cut of a legitimate cop. Jamarcus (British comedian Richard Ayoade, “The IT Crowd”) is an offbeat horndog along for the rollicking ride.

The newly recruits for Evan’s trivial watch group make the Keystone Kops look like the National Guard. At first the guys are fooling around and indifferent to looking for the neighborhood murderer. Nevertheless, they hit the streets until this revelation is revealed—the band of boobs actually uncover the crafty space creatures and find it clever on how effective they are in blending with the neighborhood.

In the meanwhile, an exasperated police office Sgt. Bressman (SNL’s Will Forte) is weary of the clueless quartet and their misadventures with the neighborhood watch group that is getting on his last nerves. Bressman cannot dismiss the convincing findings from Evan’s bombastic bunch that the out-of-this-world alien life forms existing among their jeopardized fellow human beings.

The conventional craziness in The Watch struggles to generate an off-kilter filter of zany happenings but the flaccid funny business wavers between staleness and stagy nonsense. Sure, there are a few loose ends laughs to be had in The Watch worth considering. But then obligatory guffaws involving recycled sexual innuendos, crass verbal exchanges among the pea-brained players and the cheesy presence of the aliens makes for a strained session of insufferable mediocrity.

Screenwriters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (“Superbad”, “Pineapple Express”) should be better than concocting this transparent tripe that drags more feebly than an aging alien’s testicles in a Martian nursing home. The familiarity of Stiller’s hangdog expressions and Vaughn’s makeshift adolescent exuberance feels relentlessly annoying. Hill and Ayoade come off slightly interesting in their flawed characterizations. Thankfully, DeWitt is a treasured hoot in her supporting role as Stiller’s suffering spouse. The thinly veiled earthlings-versus-aliens scenario in The Watch could be passable as an inconsequential cable movie-made romp for those looking for late night entertainment after overdoing on some cough syrup from the bathroom cabinet.

Otherwise, it is a delirious dud as a synthetic sci-fi escapist flick with a mundane mindset in labored insanity. Aimlessly generic, The Watch is a dense and diluted cold sore of a comedy harboring unwelcomed cretins whose main goal is to contribute to the continuation of the summertime blues at the local cinema house. And no…we are NOT referring to the movie’s CGI space aliens but to their clownish human counterparts.

The Watch (20th Century Fox)
1 hr. 40 mins.
Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie Dewitt, Will Forte
Directed by: Akiva Schaffer
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: Comedy/Science Fiction

Critic’s Rating: ** stars (out of 4 stars).


Frank Ochieng has contributed film reviews to SF Crowsnest off and on since 2003. He has been published in other various movie site venues throughout the years. Ochieng has been part of The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and had written film reviews for The Boston Banner newspaper (USA) and frequently is a media/entertainment panelist on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 AM on "The Jordan Rich Show" in Boston, Massachusetts/USA.

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