The Watch

| November 13, 2012

Overachieving Costco manager Evan Trotwig (Ben Stiller) decides to start a neighborhood watch after one of his employees is brutally murdered.  Recruiting the help of local citizens, Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Johan Hill), and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade; The IT Crowd), Evan and his neighborhood watch stumble onto a massive alien conspiracy to take over the world.

The Watch is about what you’d expect from a Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn vehicle.  It’s vulgar first, but with a lot of good laughs throughout.  In fact, it’s so similar to something like Dodgeball in general tone and presentation that I assumed it was the same director.  Actually, the director here is Akiva Schaffer, who also directed Hot Rod and is probably best known for being 1/3 of Andy Samburg’s comedy group, Lonely Island.

A lot of the comedy’s effectiveness relies on the core group of actors.  Ben Stiller’s the straight man, giving the others someone to play off of and giving the film overall a distinct balance.  Each of the other actors bring something different to the table.  Vince Vaughn basically plays the Vince Vaughn character here.  He’s loud and obnoxious, and that’s about it.  The most interesting thing about his character is the relationship with his daughter, Chelsea (Erin Moriarty).  Bob’s overly protective to be sure, and Chelsea is an archetypal teenage girl character, but there’s a nicely backwards demonstration of love and respect in the way he scolds her.  There’s a deleted scene between the two that has more of this offbeat interaction.

Jonah Hill’s performance stands out as something special here.  His character seems to have seen Taxi Driver too many times and it causes him to dive nose first into this neighborhood watch world in a very intense way.  Probably the least well-known of the central cast is Richard Ayoade, a British comedian, who mostly does sit-com work on shows like The IT Crowd, and Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.  Ayoade always plays the same basic character; awkward, dry, and very very British.  It’s fun to watch, and Ayoade brings a certain wholesomeness to the group, even though he’s not that wholesome.

Overall, the film is predictable and shallow, but if you like the cast, and you like senseless comedy that relies heavily on male genitalia humor, then The Watch is probably for you.  It’s fun and ridiculous and the right audience will enjoy it immensely.

Special Features include deleted scenes, a gag reel, alternate takes of Jonah Hill, a behind the scenes featurette, and an interview with the cast and crew asking them what they would do if aliens invaded.

Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th Century Fox.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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