Dir: Akiva Schaffer, 2012
A bizarre murder inspires Evan to found a poorly received neighbourhood watch, joined by three inept characters each using the society as a means to their individual ends. When the murder’s explanation turns out to be an alien invasion, the foursome are compelled to act in order to save their town and subsequently, Earth, from being destroyed by extraterrestrials.
It’s a universal trend in the film industry to create new life, whether through the old fashioned way of unique and inventive screenwriting or via the chemist’s methods of mixing and blending known substances to formulate a new compound. The Watch falls under the latter, intertwining science fiction and comedy – not a groundbreaking effort but the success all rides on whether it entertains, not educates.
Rather than following the blockbusting paths of the Men in Black series or slapstick favourites like Galaxy Quest, The Watch predictably launches itself as the Frat Pack encounter aliens. The juvenile humour is ever-present as the average of penis jokes hit an all-time high and the Stiller/Vaughn duo still play inexplicable man-children but the comedy is still there, though not as high calibre as it has been before. Richard Ayoade and Jonah Hill round out the main cast but also keep them from drifting off into space, holding the film together with their superb delivery of poorly-written gags. It’s truly hard to believe this was penned by Superbad’s team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
The funniest parts of the film (those that don’t appear in the film) stem from the foursome’s simple efforts to act as a neighbourhood watch. Beer-laced stakeouts and citizen’s arrests with an abundance of verbal abuse are a mere demonstration of when power goes to the head of the brainless. Such a feature makes it questionable whether the science fiction element is all that necessary. Rogen and Goldberg have scripted immature yet believable characters before and director Akiva Schaffer (of The Lonely Island trio) has similar experience and success with Hot Rod, so why reach into outer space for a story?
The Watch entertains, albeit sparsely, right up until the third act where the unoriginal plot (having been delayed as much as possible) is forced to take control. Needless to say that bullets fly, (green) blood is shed and vulgarities become even more frequent. These final 30 minutes do a fine job of summing up The Watch as nothing we haven’t seen a hundred times before.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆