The Watch Movie Review - -

The Watch
  Reviewed by Morgan Qasabian on October 1st, 2012
presents a film directed by Akiva Schaffer
Screenplay by Jared Stern, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade
Running Time: 102 minutes
Rating: MA15+
Released: September 13th 2012



The mysterious and gruesome death of Antonio Guzman (Joe Nunez) at the Costco that Evan (Ben Stiller) manages motivates Evan to form a neighbourhood watch to catch Guzman’s murderer. Evan reaches out to the community at a football game, telling them his intentions in forming the watch and three citizens answer his call: Bob with a ‘B’ (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill) a weapons nut and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) a quietly spoken and horny British émigré. Early on there is disagreement over the nature of the watch, with only Evan taking it seriously and the others wanting a boys club instead. However, after their first taste of vigilante justice in turning some no good kids over to the police they get their act together and seriously begin to investigate Guzman’s death. Over the course of their investigations they discover that it was an alien that murdered Guzman and they further uncover an alien plot to invade Earth. The watch take it upon themselves to be Earth’s saviours.

I went into this film expecting to pan it something fierce, as I am one of the few people that think the Stiller and Vaughn type comedians aren’t as funny as others make them out to be. As such, I did zero homework on this film—I didn’t even know there was going to be an alien invasion plot. The opening scene only furthered my prejudice against this film. Ben Stiller playing the usual neurotic passive-aggressive character, and fast-forward a minute or two to Vince Vaughn’s first onscreen appearance and he’s playing the usual idiot (yes, my toleration threshold for these actors is really quite low). Things pick up really quickly after this, starting with the night of the mysterious death of the Evan’s friend Antonio. This early moment in the film also has my favourite scene, where a solemn and grieving Evan is driving from the funeral with a Spanish cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” playing in the backing track. Hilarious, and pure comedic gold! Try as I might, I can’t dislike this film, but why is that so? Especially since the bulk of reviews I have read for The Watch read as if my prejudices for Stiller and Vaughn had written them.

I think it is because this film is a sum of its parts. With much efficacy one could tear this apart and many critics have done so. Many of the constituent parts are on all objective counts pretty crummy. Starting with what I was getting at above, it feels like the principle characters have been played by the same actors in some of their other films. Many of the story arcs that were used to transcend the comedy of the film, bringing an actual form to the story feel as though they were after thoughts or merely tacked on for the illusion of substance. The sci-fi element of the film doesn’t add anything new to the genre and merely rehashes old tropes. Even the aliens look like a bric-ŕ-brac construction of the remnants of Hollywood blockbuster alien films. Though, after saying all of this I will bite the bullet and say this is the best comedy I have seen all year.

Tearing it apart is easy, and I could give it a lesser score than I did, but the part that makes the whole that much better are the one-liners that make up the majority of the dialogue. The smutty yet glorious one-liners! The actual jokes, so those with a setup and pay-off remind me of jokes about such jokes being absent from a lot of comedy these days. They’re nothing to write home about, except for the one with the longest moment between the set-up and pay-off, which I’ll only say involves the sex-crazed Jamarcus and an Asian housewife—brilliant! Just a word on Jamarcus, pace other reviewers I didn’t find his character to be the best of the lot, the twist towards the end regarding Jamarcus was quite predictable and the character just felt like Ayoade in the IT Crowd. Quickly back to the one-liners and miscellaneous “funny stuff” that carries this film, some of it is quite puerile, such as the aliens’ weakness. But I must stop myself before I point out too many of the films flaws, because as a comedy it did its job and had my sides aching for the duration of the film.

I was expecting The Watch to be more edifying on the workings of a neighbourhood watch and less on comedy, much like Homer Simpson taking Bart to see Police Acadamy films not to laugh but to appreciate law and order. This film had me laughing from early on right until the end credits. I can’t bring myself to pan this film, not after it did its work as a comedy from start to finish. Recommended.


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