"Where Akiva Schaffer's feature suffers the most is within the unnecessary sci-fi narrative..."
With a lead cast consisting of Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughn and Richard Ayoade and writing credits for both Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, surely upcoming bromantic comedy The Watch is gonna be really good, right? Wrong, sadly. Very wrong.
Stiller plays Evan, the hard-working manager of a Costco Wholesale store, happily married to his wife Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) and living the American dream in his home town of Glenview, Ohio. However, Evan's life is turned upside down following the brutal murder of his friend and Costco security guard Chucho (Mel Rodriguez), so he decides to form a neighbourhood watch to crack down on crime and solve the murder of his colleague.
Evan's appeal for the neighbourhood's safety is poorly received, as just three men attend the opening meeting - the carefree Bob (Vaughn), erratic Franklin (Hill) and oddball Jamarcus (Ayoade) - yet the quartet go ahead with their initiative regardless, mostly looking forward to simply hanging out with friends and drinking beer. However, any such plans are thrown out of the window as the group realise that Glenview has been inhabited by beings from outer space and suddenly these four men have the responsibility of not only saving the neighbourhood from these unwelcome aliens, but the entire world...
Given the all-star cast of course one had expected a better standard of film, but instead The Watch is mediocre and mostly humourless, as the funny moments remain too few and far between. For starters they completely under-use Stiller. The character of Evan - our protagonist no less - is far too ordinary to carry this picture, deeming the role a mere cipher. Stiller often plays the 'regular' man yet with a hint of eccentricity, a character always capable of getting things, well, wrong. However Evan hasn't got that streak about him at all, and simply remains ordinary, which is no fun at all.
Hill is certainly the stand-out performer of the lot, whilst Ayoade is also impressive - even if he is just reworking the character of Moss from the IT Crowd to pamper to an American audience. However, unlike the IT Crowd, what Ayoade hasn't got is a strong script to work with and his jokes are mostly predictable, playing up to his whole geeky British demeanour, meeting eye-rolling conclusions. And who the fudge is called Jamarcus? Honestly.
Where Akiva Schaffer's feature suffers the most, however, is within the unnecessary sci-fi narrative. This film has potential in that it's four semi-pathetic guys attempting to tackle crime in the area and getting it horribly wrong. The funniest scenes come in the early stages of the film when the local residents refuse to take the newly-formed neighbourhood watch at all seriously. However it then becomes a full blown sci-fi, with transmitters, invasions and what have you. I appreciate Schaffer's attempt at crossing genres, but it simply doesn't work. Comedy is a genre that is best when simplistic, and they should have just stuck to what they're good at.
The Watch is a film of moments and the occasional one-liner, but not consistent enough and is lacking in a witty or intelligent script. The film’s release had initially been held back due to unforeseen circumstances, and having now seen it, perhaps it would have been wiser to have just called the whole thing off.