Director: Akiva Schaffer
Runtime: 100 minutes
I suppose you can describe The Watch (formerly Neighborhood Watch) as high concept, and perhaps high might be the state one would be in to enjoy it. Here we have one of the most uninspired comedies of the year, a film with little-to-no redeeming qualities and even fewer laughs. Directed by Akiva Schaffer (with a background in directing shorts for Saturday Night Live, and previously the spirited Hot Rod) and written by Jared Stern, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, it’s baffling how all of these smart people can make something that quite frankly lacks necessary laughs and originality.
Comedy depends on what you find funny naturally and seeing the film sober with a small audience didn’t help the situation. The history of alien and science fiction is coded with metaphor, and the film makes no sense of what it is trying to say. Is it a comment on consumerism (after all the film’s main character is the manager of a Costco) or the suburbs? If so, it doesn’t go the distance.
Ben Stiller plays the aforementioned Evan, a Costco manager living in a tiny Ohio town. After a store security guard is brutally murdered and skinned alive during the night shift, he forms a neighborhood watch with Franklin (Jonah Hill), a police academy reject, Bob (Vince Vaughn) and a British man whom they don’t question nearly as much as they should, named Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade).
After the initial bonding, a stake-out leads them to one of the film’s brightest moments: R. Lee Ermey arrives, typecast to tell the boys what he thinks of ‘em, Full Metal Jacket-style. Unfortunately, it’s all down hill from there as the guys discover a nuclear-like device that they can use to defeat the alien invasion on the horizon, accidentally blowing up a cow in the process. Another all too short (with a far too small comic payoff) cameo belongs to Billy Crudup. Again — what are these smart people doing in this trainwreck?
The biggest problem is that we know exactly what we are getting. Stiller is a compulsive middle manager trapped in the suburbs; Vaughn, a working man who wants to kick back and drink a beer with the boys and Hill as a momma’s boy stuck in arrested development. Ayoade is an unexpected addition to this pool of type casting, and yet very little is done with this beyond an obvious plot point.
It’s not impossible to make a good sci-fi comedy — think Paul from last year, or even the often hilarious Attack the Block. This one lacks ambition beyond its utter desire to be a mainstream “product” — yes, this is a product more than a film. Straying far from the anti-mainstream geekdom that many successful sci-fi comedies embrace, in the end The Watch will satisfy no one.
The Watch is now in wide release.
In the case of evaluating David Cronenberg, — or at least forming the sort of career narrative seemingly essential to auteurist analysis — it’s inevitable to propose something of a rupture within his oeuvre: the very evident graduation from grindhouse to arthouse, and, with it, an ascension from body to mind. What dictated these labels […]
Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. If we were provided screener copies, we’ll have our own write-up, but if that’s not the case, one can find official descriptions from the distributors. Check out […]
Writing about the films of Robert Bresson usually begins by informing reader that his films must be discussed through a trance of hushed tones and quiet veneration. There is no room for rushed judgement or quick-witted observations; Bresson makes Serious Art, as opposed to Hollywood directors who do not. There are the key phrases to […]
With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we believe it’s our duty to highlight the recent, recommended titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of […]
Latest posts from Beats Per Minute