Review: The Watch

Posted on July 28, 2012
under Reviews

How much did Costco, Trojan, and Chevy pay to be absurdly over marketed in this film, I wonder?

After renaming itself from Neighborhood  Watch to just The Watch in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting, the film markets itself as an odd sci-fi comedy about a group of men hunting aliens. Oddly there is nothing in the film offensive or close to the George Zimmerman incident that would upset anyone, but I suppose it was a precaution taken by the studio.

Ben Stiller plays Evan, a man who simply loves his neighborhood and does whatever he can to keep the community involved. After an accident at his place of work, Costco, he pleads for help from the citizens of his fair town. When three odd balls volunteer to join him, they officially become The Neighborhood Watch!


With vigilance coursing through their veins; Bob, Franklin, and Jamarcus, played by Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade, show up to be a part of Evan’s neighborhood task force. Each weirder than the next, if this is the hodgepodge of a foursome a community needs to rely on, they are in some trouble.

Bob’s motivation for joining is simple, he has a wife and a daughter along with a man cave and doesn’t get to use it. So he joins to escape, while still showing an odd level of enthusiasm for killing. Franklin is a disgruntled, knife wielding guy who failed the local police test and has an axe to grind. Finally, Jamarcus is the foreign, quiet one of the group whose intentions for joining are solely based on the potential of getting laid.

While the premise of the film is pretty much out there, you have to wonder what director Akiva Schaffer was thinking when he came up with the plot. Sensibility isn’t exactly a selling point with films, especially when it comes to comedies, but you’ll find yourself muttering “this is stupid,” throughout the film in between sparse laughter.

In terms of laying out the positives, this film has two.

Richard Ayoade pretty much steals the show when it comes to adding comedic value. It probably helps that he isn’t as well known as the other three, and his humor isn’t as played out as a Vaughn or Stiller. Ayoade has an interesting role in the film, and his absurdity of being sort-of dim witted and from the UK is a good blend.

The Watch provides some serious laughs in it’s second act which really gets the group rolling, the issue is the jokes aren’t consistent and many of them were used in the trailers which have been shown to death.

At times the film makes you think you are watching a quasi Not Another Teen Movie with the amount of phallic jokes and references to condoms. Looks like Jared Stern, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg who wrote the film, tried to go the cheap joke – easy laugh route and failed big time. It’s not just one penis joke, it’s many, often times in the same context, and when you see it you’ll understand why I was just frustrated.

Speaking of useless humor and plugs, wait till you see how Costco is used in this film not only as a base for things that happen, but the ways they try to actually market the film. Corny lines that refer to aliens invading the store with Stiller uttering that they can’t enter because they don’t have a membership card. Or even throwing in their slogan casually in dialogue, it’s just cheap.

I have a bone to pick with Vince Vaughn. While he wasn’t bad in this film, and he brought some laughs with his crazy, fast talking, yelling type of humor, it’s time to change the shtick, just a little bit. It’s the same act in every movie, one-after-the-other. I can literally say the same thing for Ben Stiller, who has played this role 50 times already, these guys have no desire of freshening up their act and it’s sickening.

Speaking of bones to pick, New York radio talk show host and founder of the Guardian Angels, a safety patrol organization, Curtis Sliwa has been vocal on his talk show about The Watch. For those unfamiliar with Sliwa’s Angels, their signature attire are red beret’s and red jackets emblazon with their logo created by Sliwa in the late 1970’s. Sliwa has been outraged at the “members only” jackets worn in the film as he believes they ripped off his logo.

While I can understand why Sliwa is upset, both logo’s have similar lettering and placement, along with wings – what he doesn’t know is that the original logo Stiller’s character  made in the film is an EVEN CLOSER replica of the Guardian Angels one! That’s the one no one has seen in the trailer. Vaughn’s Bob changes it and adds a tiger, wings, and flames claiming it symbolizes “Chinese power” having to do with attacking and protecting.

In fact, the film itself could be a rip off and or homage of Sliwa’s organization, a civilian, unarmed task force that is now located all over the world. So yes, there are similarities with the logo, albeit small ones, but Sliwa should look at the silver lining and take it as a compliment that a film was made with the potential inspiration of what he started.

The Watch‘s strength are Hill and Ayoade, while Vaughn straddles the line of funny and annoying, but Stiller is beyond tiresome and practically unbearable to watch on screen. If you can get past the ridiculous plot, childish and incessant toilet humor, and corny script then I’d understand how you’d like this film. Oh, let me not forget the asinine sub plots of Vaughn’s teenage daughter, Stiller’s infertility, and the stupid cops of the town, yeah – banging my head on the table stupid.

The film plays out like a bad video game with some explosions, gun fire and splattering green goo.

Besides a handful of strong laughs, the story is never told properly; like why the major events in the town are happening, or backstory of Jamarcus’ character. A flawed, meager film up and down, that’ll leave you scratching and shaking your head as you leave the theater.

Rating: 5/10

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2 Responses to “Review: The Watch”

  1. July 30, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Great review. I agree with just about everything you said. The infertility and the daughter thing were pretty boring issues. Vaughn wasn’t used well and wasn’t a very developed character. Stiller played it too straight to be funny. Hill has hilarious as usual. Ayoade was good and I liked him a lot, but he didn’t steal the movie for me. Did Akiva Schaffer really come up with the plot? I thought he just directed the movie.

    • David Berov
      July 30, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      Thanks Nic. Whenever I give credit to a director for coming up with the story, it doesn’t actually matter if they first-hand wrote the story. Since they are the director, they can mold the story anyway they want, they become the creator no matter what. And we can see what direction the story was taken because of Akiva

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