Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughan, Jonah Hill
You may like this if you liked: Ted (Seth Macfarlane, 2012). Horrible Bosses (Seth Gordon, 2011), The Hangover Part II (Todd Phillips, 2011)
In a small American town the manager of the local supermarket and general do-gooder, Evan (Stiller) decides to set up a neighbourhood watch program after the stores security guard is brutally murdered. The only other residents that sign up are Bob (Vaughan), Franklin (Hill) and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). As this is a ‘comedy’ they are naturally a motley crew of individuals with their own quirky personality traits. This hilarious gaggle of individuals then discovers that the security guard was murdered by an alien and that they are the only hope to protect earth from a pending alien invasion.
For me, The Watch is a strange film that only just about works as it does not really know what it actually wants to be and is very inconsistent in tone. They often say football is a game of two halves, well that can certainly be applied here. The first half is extremely slow and very dialogue heavy, which can be fine, but for me in this case the dialogue was not particularly funny. There is obvious good chemistry between the starry cast so there was potential here as they do actually complement each other as actors, but this was potential that the screen writers did not really utilise. Maybe a Judd Apatow approach relying heavily on improv may have been better, making the comedy feel natural as the main theme of the first half is male bonding with all four actors sharing a lot of screen time together. There also appears to be an element of satire within the script as there are plenty of jibes at the nature of small town America and idiots being in allowed to have guns.
In the second half once the whole Invasion of the Body Snatchers cut and pasted plot takes over and The Watch becomes a loud gun toting action comedy, immediately undermining any satire from the first half. There is of course also the inevitable part where some of the main characters fall out with each other and one or the other sees the error of their ways and has the whole character arc thing. This sequence is all extremely mechanical and feels like the writers really want to get it over and done with but accept it has to be there, and the former certainly can be applied to how we the viewer feels. However, the action itself is pretty good and once it picks up the film becomes infinitely more entertaining, if slightly forgettable.
Is this film terrible? In my opinion it is not, The Watch is perfectly watchable and enjoyable with an extremely likeable cast, just instantly forgettable. The main problem, as I mentioned before, is that this film is a complete mess as it appears to not truly know what it wants to be. The DVD cover describes it as a ‘ruder and cruder’ cut, so it is obvious who the marketing people have been told to appeal to, or maybe it is because it rhymes and sounds catchy? There are occasional crude moments, but these feel lazy as it is almost like the writers do not know where else to take a scene. But it is nothing like The Hangover II where the main basis of the comedy is being as crude as possible, but at least that is consistent. The Watch is in my opinion not funny enough to be described solely as a ‘comedy’, yet this was definitely what it was marketed as, which may leave people disappointed, I know I was as there was serious potential.
In summary, in my view The Watch is an entertaining enough and occasionally amusing watch (excuse the pun), but slightly frustrating, empty and forgettable due to being an unsuccessful mish mash of different genres.