The Watch (A Small Review)

The Watch

What’s it about? When a murder takes place in the suburbs of Glenview, Illinois, local do-gooder Evan Troutwig (played by Ben Stiller) starts a neighborhood watch to find the killer and protect his fellow citizens. He’s joined by three neighbors. There’s Bob (played by Vince Vaughn). He’s just your average suburbanite, married with a kid. He joins the group mostly to meet new people and hang out. Then there’s Franklin (played by Jonah Hill). He’s a young hothead who likes to play with butterfly knives and loves the idea of street justice. Rounding out the team is Jamarcus (played by Richard Ayoade). He’s English and has fantasies of seducing single ladies during their patrol. It’s not quite the team Evan expected, and even though they don’t take the watch as seriously as he does, they all begin to bond, especially after they start finding clues about the murder.  It seems that all the evidence points to something out of this world. It’s not long before they find themselves trying to defend the world from a full out alien invasion.

Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill interrogate (or terrorize?) a teenager in The Watch.

What did I think about it? I had high hopes after the first trailer of this movie (posted below), which showed Ben Stiller’s and Jonah Hill’s characters interrogating/ terrorizing a young kid. It was hysterical. From that clip I surmised the movie would be about a group of overambitious neighbors who take their neighborhood watch too seriously, and I really wanted to see it. Then I saw later trailers that revealed that the plot involved aliens, and suddenly it seemed sillier and less funny. I probably wouldn’t have seen the movie if I hadn’t gotten passes to a free screening. I’m glad I did though. The movie easily rose above my lowered expectations (though it didn’t reach my original hopes). It’s pretty funny.

I find everything Jonah Hill does to be hilarious, especially when he plays a character that’s a little off-kilter. He can do this non-blinking, dead eye stare that kills me any time he does it in a movie. Vince has some awesome lines that made me laugh out loud, but I feel like the movie doesn’t make the most out of his talents. There isn’t a whole lot of development for his character, and so every time he’s on screen I simply see Vince instead of seeing Bob. Even when a frustrated Bob argues heatedly with his teenage daughter about her Facebook page, it doesn’t feel very genuine. I just see Vince Vaughn talking really fast.

Ben Stiller is fine here, but he’s playing the straight man. He’s friendly but also a little too serious and buttoned-down. As such, he doesn’t get the really funny lines. Richard Ayoade has his share of chuckle-inducing moments, but against the three other big players he doesn’t get much to do at all. Still I’d like to see more of him in the future.

The story itself is predictable and full of holes and unrealistic decisions. That’s all perfectly fine in a comedic movie, but I think the movie then needs to be really funny to make up for those story issues; The Watch is only kind of funny. I enjoyed it for what it was, but I don’t see me ever wanting to watch it again. I’m not sure I’d get anything more out of it a second time.

So what’s the bottom line? If you’re looking for a funny movie that doesn’t take itself seriously, The Watch will do the job. You don’t need to see it at the theater, but if you do, I doubt you’ll still be talking about it once you’re back outside.

 

The Watch
Director: Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod, Saturday Night Live: Digital Shorts)
Writers: Jared Stern (Mr. Popper’s Penguins), Seth Rogen (SuperbadPineapple ExpressThe Green Hornet), and Evan Goldberg (Da Ali G Show, Superbad, Pineapple Express, The Green Hornet, Goon)

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