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The Watch (2012)

| July 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Watch is a lackluster comedy that clearly draws its inspiration from Ghostbusters.  As with that great comedy, four average guys band together only to find themselves in the midst of the build-up to an other-worldly apocalypse.  On the inspiration scale, the movie comes up way too light.  On the laugh scale it actually inches closer to Ghostbusters 2.  That’s not a good thing.

What we have here is a sloppy comedy with few laughs featuring a bunch of average joes that, in another movie, we may have come to like.  The problem is that it can’t decide what kind of movie it wants to be.  On one hand is a movie about an alien invasion.  On the other hand it is a movie about four guys suffering various domestic issues.  To our dismay, the movie tries to find equal time for both.

Ben Stiller leads the pack as Evan, a straight-arrow guy who loves his job as the manager of the local Costco and is dismayed by the information that his newly hired security guard was murdered inside the store – skinned, in fact – on his first night on the job.  From this, Evan forms a neighborhood watch with the hope of keeping his town safe and hopefully catching the killer.  Despite his announcement of the new neighborhood watch at the local football game, he draws only three potential recruits.  One is Bob (Vince Vaughn), a nice guy who is having a problem dealing with his daughter’s budding sexuality.   Another is Franklin (Jonah Hill), an angry kid who was denied a place on the police force.  Then there’s Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade), a clean-cut Brit whose fondest wish in life (which can’t be printed here) brings a stunned silence to the group.

On patrol, Evan squashes something with his car that clearly had tentacles.  Among the remains is a round silver object that turns out to be an alien weapon that can evaporate its target.  As they dig deeper into the mystery they uncover a plot by the aliens to destroy our world, which is about it in terms of the alien invasion.  What happens in the end really brings neither surprises nor comic zeal.  It is all just closure with lots of special effects and explosions.  The aliens themselves are your standard movie monsters, all slime, yellow eyes, teeth and tentacles.  Their purpose for being here?  To destroy our planet, just like every other alien in the movies.  Ho-hum.

What becomes clear is that the alien invasion plot was so thin that the screenwriters (one of whom is Seth Rogan) felt the need to add an uncomfortable series of domestic issues.  Evan and his wife Abby (Rosemary DeWitt) are trying to have a baby while Evan is wrestling with how to break the new that he is shooting blanks.  Meanwhile, Bob is dealing with his unmanageable teenage daughter whose new boyfriend he has spotted at Costco buying large quantities of condoms.  Interesting stuff, but they feel odd in a plot in which an alien invasion is lurking elsewhere.

It wouldn’t matter anyway.  Those issues are so earthbound and mishandled that they feel uncomfortable on their own.  So too does the presence of a surprising amount of crude, foul language.  Most of the dialogue between the guys is of an explicit sexual nature aimed mostly at their own reproductive organs.  They don’t really seem interested in women at all; they just make jokes about their own nether-regions and each others.  This happens early and often.  So often, in fact, that it makes up much of the movie’s dialogue and even those who usually find this stuff funny may find it tiresome.  The rest of the dialogue deals with issues of personal responsibility and the importance of friendship.  That’s all nice and good, but it isn’t really what an audience will be attending this movie for in the first place. We’re bored when we should be laughing.  It’s pretty bad when you attend a comedy and the biggest laugh takes place in the trailer that precedes it.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.