If ever there were a group of actors to sell an R-rated summer comedy solely based on their star power and comedic track records, the appealing combo of “The Watch” stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill are it.
The three funnymen, along with newcomer/rising star Richard Ayoade, play average Joes in an average Midwestern neighborhood who form a neighborhood watch to solve a mysterious murder at their local Costco. Naturally, things are not at all what they seem, and the watch group is soon involved in happenings that they never imagined and dealing with insecurities they’d been trying to hide.
While the premise and the cast do offer a lot of promise for a satisfying cinematic experience, the critical mass was distracted by the overcrowded, overstuffed-ness of it all. And despite delivering several solid laughs, “The Watch” seemed to fall short for critics minds because there is too much going on.
Lock your doors and arm your home security systems as we peek through “The Watch” reviews:
The Story Behind the Story
” ’The Watch,’ a passing mess of a comedy about four mismatched guys who form a patrol in their suburban Ohio neighborhood following a weird killing in the local Costco, flails around with the desperation of a victim slowly bleeding out. Which, in a way, is what this casualty of the biz and current events has been left to do: The movie was conceived some years ago as a kind of PG-13 ’Ghostbusters’ for teens (no spoiler: the killer is a gooey alien). Then it was rejiggered for a more adult audience with R-rated script contributions from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. And then it was re-tweaked to keep the emphasis on the kid-friendly alien goo and away from associations with the fatal shooting of a Florida teen by a citizen patrolling his community this past February.” — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
“There are some clever big-box store jokes, which anyone who has been to a Costco will appreciate. There are a few alien zingers, including one funny photo session. But really, those are just Trojan horses (and yes, the other kind of Trojans factor in too). The real comic assault comes from an unending string of below-the-belt riffs. It’s as if someone challenged ’Superbad’ funny guy Seth Rogen, who wrote the script with Jared Stern and Evan Goldberg, to see if he could slip in every slang term for that private part ever conceived, along with every way in which it can be used and abused. Who knew it was possible for a movie’s very plot to hang on the male member? But that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what the writers have done. No stone is left unturned.” — Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
“That’s a fine cast of funny people, familiar roles and all, but ’The Watch’ places a bit too much confidence in the idea that simply putting funny people together will be enough. The cast riffs aimlessly off one another as the film plods along to the next encounter with aliens that look like unimaginatively exact crosses between the creatures from ’Alien’ and ’Predator.’ The brightest spots — and they are bright — come courtesy of the fourth member of their group, Richard Ayoade, a performer and filmmaker best known to fans of the British sitcom ’The IT Crowd.’ Unfailingly, and often inappropriately, he lends an unpredictable element to the group dynamic, and to the film. It’s the sort of performance that ought to be plucked for use in another, better movie.” — Keith Phipps, A.V. Club
The Final Word
“In many ways, ’The Watch’ splits the difference between the under-seen ’Observe and Report’ (where Seth Rogen’s security guard plunges into madness and maleness in mall-land America) and the U.K. import ’Attack the Block’ (where space invaders arrive in an impoverished inner-city British housing flat only to face a multiracial crew of youth toughs). Mind you, it isn’t as interesting as either of those films. But it will be far, far more profitable than both of them put together. Still, when Hill and Vaughn play a variation on ’good cop, bad cop’ with a skateboarder — or, more accurately, ’bad non-cop, worse non-cop’ — it’s funny stuff. And the way Stiller runs makes it clear that Evan is both a little uptight and a huge Tom Cruise fan. The whole film is like that: offering small pleasures, but well, and with passion. With its foul but never stale breeze of profanity and sex jokes lightly wafting through the film, and a booming pulse provided by the occasional exploded cow, ’The Watch’ is as agreeable as it is disposable.” — James Rocchi, BoxOffice.com
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Watch.”
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