Film Review : The Watch
● By Justin Buettner
Four small town guys form a neighborhood watch group after a local man is found dead in a Costco. Although the men all have their separate reasons for joining, they work together to uncover a startling discovery, their small town is the launching point of an alien invasion and they are the only ones who can stop it.
The Watch has been a cursed movie. Just when marketing started for this film the Tayvon Martin case forced 20th Century Fox to change the name from Neighborhood Watch, to just the Watch. Then the weekend before its release the Colorado shooting occurs. The filmmakers can of course use those excuses when the film does poorly at the box office, but the real reason will be because it is a bad comedy. Considering the type of comedic talent associated with this movie it is safe to say that this movie fails on epic proportions.
The Watch has so many problems it’s difficult to pick a place to start, so the story will have to do. The premise could actually be quite funny. In fact if Seth Rogen, the writer, had removed the alien subplot completely out of the film I still think the film could have been very funny. However the writing is so lazy, and attempts to pack in so many conflicting subplots that it never succeeds in finding a consistent tone. These varied subplots include alien invasions, family issues, personal issues, parenting issues, and fertility issues just to name a few (yes there are a lot more!) In scenes that attempt to be dramatic it over reaches with out of place jokes, when the movie attempts to be funny everyone takes themselves too seriously. From scene to scene it feels like the Watch attempts to be a different type of movie. It never fits together.
Ben Stiller has proven in the right role he can be very funny, but in the straight man role of Evan he is just boring. Stiller adds absolutely nothing to the dully written part. Add to the mix Vince Vaughn who plays Bob, a very confused character. Bob is written as both a dedicated family first man but also as a guy trying to dodge family responsibility by joining the watch to hang out with the guys and get drunk in his man cave. It just doesn’t fit together and tries as he might Vaughn just seems confused himself as to who his character is. The characters of Evan and Bob dominate the screen and seem to force the life from the movie. The other two lead characters are far funnier but seem distant supporting characters in this mess unfortunately.
The comedy and the gags in this movie never connect. The funniest moments in the Watch are featured in the trailers, and to my surprise they actually are much funnier in the trailer than in the context of the actual movie. Because the movie never establishes a style, the slapstick bits of the film feel every bit out of place as the topical comedy. The jokes never go together. Most the big jokes were met with a roll of the eyes instead of a chuckle, especially the lame reveal of the aliens weakness.
It’s a shame that so much comedic talent produced so few laughs in this big budgeted comedy as I still contend that a great comedy can be made from the premise. In fact I think a great comedy could be made with the same cast. A more capable director who can better set a tone and more inspired writing could have made a huge difference. This movie needed a lot more creativity and a clearer vision in its writing to give the talented actors more to work with. Despite looking forward to seeing The Watch I left feeling very disappointed, as has been the case with most of the high profile comedies this summer with the exception of Ted.
Movies like the Watch : Paul, Attack the Block, and Mars Attacks!
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.