Score: 6 out of 10
The Watch is a new comedy starring Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughn, and British comedian Richard Ayoade as a group of bumbling Neighbourhood Watch volunteers who inadvertently thwart an alien invasion. It borrows familiar sci-fi elements from movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, They Live, and the recent Attack the Block, but the film that it tries to ape the most is Ghostbusters. Like Ghostbusters, The Watch aims to give viewers a mix of comedy and action, but unlike the ghostly film, it won’t blow you away in either department.
Stiller plays a Costco manager who takes himself way too seriously, and after one of his employees is killed on the job, he takes it upon himself to find the culprit by forming the titular Neighbourhood Watch. They soon uncover the extra-terrestrial origins behind the attack, and the plot is pretty simple from there. The story serves one purpose: to get the characters from one comedy scene to the next. Surprisingly, most of the scripted gags fall flat, and the funniest bits are when the actors are clearly improvising their lines. Stiller and company have genuine chemistry together, and it’s fun to watch them banter, but it’s just not as funny as it could have been. We’ve seen all these comedians do better work in the past, and none of the laughs will leave you breathless.
Perhaps the problem is that the actors were too constrained. The Watch is being sold as an R-rated comedy, but it doesn’t feel R-rated. There are a few F-bombs and alien gross out moments, but nothing too intense. It almost feels like the filmmakers were trying to make a PG-13 movie, but then decided to bump it up to an R by throwing in a few extra swear words at the last minute. It certainly doesn’t come close to the raunch that you get in other R-rated comedies like The Hangover or Borat. This film would have been much better if they hadn’t held anything back.
Overall, The Watch is still a funny movie, but it’s just not as funny as it should be. The action scenes are also good, but they’re not great. This is not the kind of movie that we’ll be talking about in 25 years like Ghostbusters, but if all you’re looking for is a quick, forgettable comedy, then it’s worth checking out.
-Review written by Blake Siefken, follow me on Twitter!