The National, Friday 03rd August 2012
ONE of the new films premiering at the Paradise cinema this weekend is The Watch, a family comedy about a group of neighborhood sissies who decide to form a watch group to keep an eye on each other and basically get a feeling of security going in their small community.
The film has a full star array of funny guy actors who should prove to be fun to most viewers. Personally, they weren’t in this film, but that is my own verdict and there are many who did find this film amusing to a degree that was side splitting, so don’t let my judgment hinder your keenness to watch The Watch.
Stiller stars as Evan, a shop manager in a small American town who throws himself into local organisations and activities, much to the annoyance of his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) who would like him to spend more time at home trying to get her pregnant.
After his night watchman is brutally murdered on the job, and the local police (Will Forte and Mel Rodriguez) seem unwilling to track down the killer, Evan decides to start a neighborhood watch group.
A meeting is called for the watchmen to meet where the only people who show up are Bob (Vince Vaughn), an affable husband and dad looking for some male bonding; the unstable Franklin (Jonah Hill), who’s still bitter about having failed the police department’s intelligence, physical and psychiatric evaluations; and the recently-divorced Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade).
No one takes these guys seriously, but their retarded investigation reveals that there are aliens among them who must be stopped before they can stage a full-scale invasion.
“The Watch” is one of those movies where you can see the parts where the punch lines are supposed to go. It’s a comedy and so is expected to be funny; instead viewers are served a cinematic meal of boredom.
No one in the film does anything unexpected or out of the ordinary that would spark interest: Stiller does his normal nerdy stiff boy, who never grew up role, Vaughn plays the loud regular Joe, Hill gives us frenetic loser, Ayoade is the amiable dork, R. Lee Ermey pops up to play his millionth hardass role, but rarely, if ever, are these people given something amusing to say or do.
The guys stumble upon a destructive alien weapon and later an actual alien. After spending only the briefest of moments contemplating the world-shifting implications of the discovery of a hostile form of extraterrestrial life, the guys shift into manchild mode, blowing up random stuff with the device. Because that’s what you do.
While watching the film, it’s easy to overlook the lack of logic, the silly decisions made by the characters and plot holes that you could fly a spaceship through. That’s mainly thanks to the charisma and chemistry of the four leads. It’s fun to see them play off of each other, even if their actions at the time don’t make much sense.
Stiller is stuck as the straight man here, but it’s a role that he’s perfected over the years and he’s well suited to acting as referee. Vaughn and Hill play to their improvisational strengths, bouncing ridiculous dialogue back and forth between them straight-faced, as if each is trying to get the other to crack. The soft spoken Ayoade may be the unknown quantity as far as audiences new to comedy are concerned, but he holds his own with the others, matching their comedic pace beat for beat.
Any positive goodwill generated by the cast fades quickly, however, once you leave the theater. The more you think about this science-fiction/comedy hybrid, the less it holds together. Hollywood history shows that combining these two genres is a tricky balancing act. There have been far more failed attempts than successes.
The Watch, under the direction of Lonely Island member and Saturday Night Live veteran Akiva Schaffer, often goes for cheap laughs and crude humor at the expense of telling a coherent science fiction story. The obvious red herrings, pointless personal detours, underdeveloped characters and questionable motivations reveal some clumsy plot writing by the script writers of the film.
The Watch is generally a film for viewers to watch and soon forget; and if some do manage to hold on to memorable lines or moments in the film, those moments will no doubt be memorable for how bad they were.
All in all, not a film to watch for the viewer who loves action, suspense, drama, horror or other more serious films. This is strictly for hearty viewers who can watch The Watch without looking at their watch and wondering why they are watching the film.