The Watch Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

This week was a terrible one for movies. I wish it had come just one or two weeks later so I could use being on vacation as an excuse for not seeing anything at all. Alas it’s the weeks of Total Recall and The Bourne Legacy that I’ll be away for, so I was stuck with seeing either The Watch or Step Up Revolution. They looked equally unappealing to me, so I let my friend Angella choose, and she picked The Watch.

Four guys join together to form a neighborhood watch to defend their sleepy town from invading aliens.

It sounds like a decent idea in theory. I like aliens. I like comedy. Theoretically I should like the movie. And my friend Angella did. But I didn’t. I may have smiled a few times and laughed out loud once, but that’s not acceptable for a movie that bills itself as a comedy.

My biggest problem with The Watch, is that for an alien movie, it doesn’t have enough aliens in it. The movie starts off with a murder committed by aliens, which is good. Evan (the super old looking Ben Stiller) a stuffy control freak who manages the Costco, finds one of his employees eviscerated and skinned with green goop all over the place.

Ben Stiller with alien goop from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

“Clearly this has spilled from a Dr. Dreadful kit” …is what a normal person would assume.

His solution for everything is to form a club, so he petitions the town to join him in a neighborhood watch against the “murderer” and gets three guys who are desperate for friends: Bob (Vince Vaughan) the harried father of a teenaged girl, Franklin (Jonah Hill) a failed police applicant who lives with his mother and hoards weapons, and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) a British nerd who’s in it for the sexy Asian housewives.

the neighborhood watch on patrol from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

All they really have in common is that they seem to be unconcerned about being run over.

The stated aim of the Glenview Neighborhood Watch is to investigate the Costco murder, but all they really do is sit around blowing off steam like the bunch of idiot guys they are, drinking beer, cruising around town in their doofy jackets, and blowing up some poor farmer’s outbuildings with the alien ray gun they accidentally stumbled across.

Franklin, Evan, Jamarcus, and Bob zap a farmer's barn from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

You think the farmer would notice that armageddon was breaking out in his barnyard.

Once they find the ray gun it’s like the writers (Jared Stern, Seth Rogan, and Evan Goldberg) forgot they were making an alien invasion comedy and switched over to making a bromance, because (and I’m not making this up) Bob and Evan spend way too much time having heartfelt conversations about his sperm count.

The neighborhood watch meets in Bobs man cave from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

Blah blah honesty blah blah wife blah blah kids blah

Which leads me to another problem with this movie: it’s not funny. The primary reason for this is that the writers seem to think that “penis” is a joke. They don’t make jokes about penises so much as mention them ad nauseum, imagining that everyone in the theater will laugh hysterically at the mere mention of the word like a junior high lunch table packed with thirteen year old boys. This is just lazy writing.

the neighborhood watch takes photos with a dead alien from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

Even their juvenile dead alien photo session a little too Abu Ghraib to be funny.

I suspect that the writers were so lazy they didn’t even write enough material to fill up the 100 minute running time, because director Akiva Schaffer let his actors (especially Vince Vaughan) babble on for way too long in almost every scene. So much unfunny verbal diarrhea was spewing out of these guys mouths that I’m surprised we didn’t all drown in it. Vince Vaughan had one and only one funny line in this movie, and I suspect he did not come up with it himself.

Vince Vaughan from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

“His heart is out of his body, Phil, I don’t think he’s gonna make it.”

Since they show this line in the trailer, there’s really no need to see the whole film to get all the laughs it has to offer. Sometimes riffing can be funny, but yelling out random unconnected words is only funny for a few seconds. Then it rapidly becomes annoying. I spent most of the movie wishing Vince Vaughan would shut the hell up and let the British guy, who actually was funny because he inserted pithy lines into each conversation, have the floor.

Jamarcus imagines a sexy Asian housewife calling from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

Call me if you’ve got a role for me that’s more than “token non-white guy”.

Richard Ayoade and the sarcastic Sgt. Bressman (Will Forte) of the Glenview police department are the only funny parts of this movie, and they get the least screen time. Bressman, who considers the Neighborhood Watch to be the joke that it is, cruises by occasionally to get snippy with the boys.

Will Forte plays a Glenview cop from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

“Aliens who are scared by the sound of a door opening? Look out, Earth! You’ve met your match.

So apart from a few lines and a pretty decent final showdown battle inside a Costco at the end, The Watch was a massive waste of time for me. If your comedic tastes run toward the doofus (i.e if you like Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill movies) you might have a different experience, but if you prefer your comedy drier and more intellectual, you’ll be alternately bored and annoyed for an hour and a half, so don’t waste your money.

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