'Watch' It Once, but Not Again
Published: Monday, July 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, July 30, 2012 10:07
Director Akiva Schaffer — known primarily as an “SNL” writer and member of comedy troupe The Lonely Island — joins forces with writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg of Superbad and Pineapple Express fame to create a new sci-fi comedy, The Watch.
The film is set in the town of Glenview, Ohio, where Evan (Ben Stiller), the manager of the local Costco, enjoys being a friendly part of the community. The main plot is ignited after Antonio (Joe Nunez), a Costco security guard and Evan’s friend, is mysteriously and brutally murdered in the store after hours.
Antonio’s death inspires Evan, and he creates a neighborhood watch in an attempt to bring the murderer to justice. The turnout of volunteers, however, is less than stellar: three people show up. Bob (Vince Vaughn) is a husband and father who just wants to hang out with the guys. Franklin (Jonah Hill) is a high school dropout who failed every test necessary to become a police officer, and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) is a recently divorced Englishman who hopes to meet girls.
With help from the watch, Evan hopes to find Antonio’s killer, but the community does not take him seriously, particularly Sgt. Bressman (Will Forte) of the local police, who gets in the group’s way as they attempt to investigate. These four misfits do, however, make a bizarre discovery after they hit an unidentified object with their car. They find green goo on the bumper — similar to the substance present near Antonio’s body — and an eccentric orb that proves to be a very potent weapon. These turn out to belong to a flesh-eating alien and are just the start of the bizarre truths uncovered by these unsuspecting citizens as they get into more than they bargained for.
Overall, the film is funny. However, with the exception of some minor scenes, it is far from hilarious. Ben Stiller plays a familiar role that very much resembles his portrayal of Gaylord Focker in the Meet the Parents series. Stiller’s character is not the funniest one, but it is the most emotional, with a minor side plot developing within his personal life. Vaughn and Ayoade do better in their roles in terms of comedy, with strange suggestions and very blunt — and often vulgar — comments providing comic relief that distracts from the slow-moving plot.
It was Hill, however, who stood out. His role proved to be the funniest, since his purposefully overdramatic actions help accentuate his character’s inexplicably high self-opinion and undying desire to become a ‘real-life’ hero.
Although the plot presents a unique story containing certain twists and surprises that add excitement to the experience, it is occasionally flat and predictable. The interactions between the characters are funny — Bob is hilariously brusque and Franklin fantasizes that he is in a dramatic action movie. There are numerous points within the movie where the story stalls, and comedy is, sometimes unsuccessfully, used as filler. The movie is sometimes very funny but other times overly silly.
The film is significantly more graphic than I expected, both visually and in its language. However, this is by no means a negative thing. In fact, it provides some of the funnier scenes in the movie, including Sgt. Bressman’s attempt to resuscitate his partner and a descriptive discussion about the green goo’s characteristics.
This is an action-packed comedy that is good but by no means great. The actors are very funny and will make you laugh, but not with the magnitude or the frequency you would like. The story is interesting because it’s different and provides a twist, but the plot is slow and you sometimes find yourself slightly bored. The film is solid and the actors do well in their roles, but essentially, The Watch lacks what I look for most in a comedy: the desire to watch it once more, and then again.