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The Watch - Review

The Watch

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

ALIEN invasion comedy The Watch would appear to have a lot going for it given the quality of its cast and creative team. Sadly, it’s an ill-judged and often painfully unfunny experience.

Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade head the cast while Seth Rogen and regular writing partner Evan Goldberg provide the verbal ammunition (with further assistance from Jared Stern) but all are mostly firing blanks (in more ways than one).

Stiller heads the cast as Evan, an industrious do-gooder who is appalled when a night guard at the superstore he manages is found brutally murdered.

Resolving to step up for his community, he recruits some fellow concerned citizens (Vaughn, Hill and Ayoade) to form a neighbourhood watch. But he doesn’t bargain on either the slacker and/or ethically wayward tendencies of his colleagues or the fact that the murder was committed by a visiting alien.

Akiva Schaffer’s film is a particularly frustrating affair because it has some decent observations to make and is funny in places, while attempting to put a different spin on the alien invasion genre (much like Attack The Block).

Vaughn’s dad, in particular, vents some all too identifiable frustrations about social media and teenage promiscuity, while pot-shots at other social issues (such as the proliferation of super-stores and immigration) are sometimes sharply observed.

But whenever the film scores a comedic hit it quickly undermines it by resorting back to juvenile sex jokes, crass buddy bonding and contrived set piece situations.

A recurring gag involving Stiller’s inability to give his wife kids is particularly poorly-handled given the sensitivity of the issue and is therefore really offensive. While a lot of the other jokes rely too heavily on tried and tested formulas that supposedly play to the strengths of it’s leading foursome.

But another criticism is that all four leads seem to be operating well within their comfort zone, while offering little for audiences to really get behind in terms of likeability.

The alien element, meanwhile, plays distinctly second fiddle to the gags and isn’t really offering anything different to what’s been seen before. It lacks any interest.

The Watch therefore has to go down as one of the poorest blockbusters of the summer and a massive waste of time and talent.

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Certificate: 15
Running time: 105mins
UK Release Date: August 27, 2012