The Watch has so many things going for it. It was written by comedy team Seth Rogen and and Evan Goldberg who collaborated on several comedies that I personally enjoyed including Knocked Up, Superbad, and Pineapple Express. It stars Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn, both actors I like that have made movies I both love but also some I am ambivalent about. And it’s directed by Saturday Night Live veteran Akiva Schaffer, who has directed and co-written the vast majority of the SNL digital shorts with Andy Samberg (including “Dick in a Box” and “Jizz in My Pants”). It’s also about suburban alien invasion and includes British comic genius Richard Ayoade. So how it so severely missed the mark is kind of beyond me.
I have to say right up front that the absolute best part of the movie, and the reason I would recommend anyone to watch it at all, is because of Ayoade. He kind of saved what would have otherwise been an fairly unremarkable, if somewhat chuckle-worthy, film. If you are unfamiliar with Ayoade then I instruct you to go IMMEDIATELY watch The IT Crowd, and then follow it up with Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and all of The Mighty Boosh (Ayoade is only in a few episodes of series 2 and 3 but was a major player in the development of the show). Needless to say, Ayoade lends some serious Nerd cred to this film. Ayoade’s character, Jamarcus, is the only element in the film that really defies convention. Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill all play relatively standard characters, albiet they play them well. Stiller is the uptight suburbanite who, more than anything, just wants a normal life but has some control issues. Vaughn is the loud, irreverent neighbor who likes to drink with the guys and play pool in his man-cave but underneath it all has a heart of gold. Essentially he is playing a variation of every role I have ever seen him in. And Jonah Hill is a young hot-headed wannabe vigilante with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove. All of this is immediately made clear upon meeting these characters. Jamarcus, on the other hand, is just an unassuming, recently divorced neighborhood guy who wants to “get involved with the community”. At least that is his set up. And maybe the simplicity of his character is what allows him to shine so much.
I also have to say that the aliens were really, really well done. Courtesy of Legacy Effects, who have also done Iron Man, Pacific Rim, The Hunger Games, The Avengers, Thor, etc etc etc. I especially appreciate the fact that they primarily used puppets, an art that seems to be all but forgotten in most major release films these days.
But other than that the film was mostly a forgettable rampage of predictable characters relying on a litany of dick and fart jokes. Which, don’t get me wrong, those jokes have their place. And some of them are even really funny. And the actors all have great improvising skills and comedic timing, but this movie, ultimately, did not come together for me. So if you are looking for some mindless comedy with a sci-fi twist I would recommend catching this on Netflix sometime in the next few months. Overall I give this 2.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.