Director: Akiva Schiffer
Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt, Will Forte.
Written by: Seth Rogan, Evan Goldberg and Jared Stern
Running Time: 102 mins
Release date: 29th August 2012
Here’s a note of thumb. When making a comedy, try to make it original and more importantly, try to make it funny. The Watch, for all the talent that is involved, fails to follow those rules and what we have is the worst comedy of the year.
Evan is the manager of a Costco in a small American town who keeps himself busy by forming groups, from running clubs to Spanish groups for the elderly. When his security guard at his store is found ripped to pieces and his skin removed, Evan, knowing the local police force won’t investigate, decides to form his own Neighbourhood Watch group, made up of himself, Bob, a guy who wants to just hang out with other guys while trying to cope with his teenage daughter; Franklin, a young man who was refused to join the police because of his slightly psychotic ways, and Jamarkus, an Englishman recently divorced and who dreams of having an Asian woman do things to him. The four mismatched members so discover that the small town they live has a visitor…from another planet.
Let me just say that if you love jokes about the male genitalia, then you are going to burst with laughter because almost every joke is about it. It is full of jokes about size, length, working order, even the finale is based around it. However, if you don’t find excessive jokes about it funny, you are going to be bored out of your mind. This is what I mean about it not being funny. It relies far too heavily on the crude and rude, areas that have been done to death and so there seems to be no original jokes left. Take a film like Ted. Ted is very rude and very crude but it manages to do it in a funny way. Here the gags are hammered home or sign-posted miles off before they are delivered.
Written by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg (with Mr Popper’s Penguins writer Jared Stern), we know they can write funny. They were responsible for Superbad. This just comes across as being lazy, from the limp jokes to the obvious rip-off of Evolution (a far better film) to the alien looking like a bald Predator. It not only disappoints but depresses that a film like this could even get through to being green lighted. Director Akiva Schaffer directs without any subtly and allows his cast to improvise but even they are struggling with producing any real humour.
Ben Stiller as Evan, is, well, Ben Stiller. Aside from Zoolander, Stiller has made a career out being himself and it’s a role that is getting very tiresome. Vince Vaughn, who can be very funny, gives another laddish performance that lacks any of the punch he made a career out of while Jonah Hill has been relegated from slobbish kid to slobbish adult. We really what to see the Jonah that was in Moneyball please.
That leaves the only saving grace in the whole film, Richard Ayoade. For those of you who don’t know Mr Ayoade, he was Moss in the brilliant The IT Crowd. Here he plays the strange Brit who joins the group and his quiet style of comedy works to a tee here. Yes, some of the lines he has to deliver are less than funny and you kind of wonder why he was ever persuaded to even star in this (oh yes, I forgot…Ben Stiller produced Ayoade’s directorial debut, the superb Submarine). But he is the only one to be subtle with anything and gets the biggest laughs every time.
The temptation of such a strong cast is going to draw the crowds no matter what people say but people will soon leave without a hope in their hearts and turn to other, much funnier comedies around. I sat in that empty cinema (yes, it was literally empty! Never a good sign) and I was in total despair that comedy has now to rely on penis jokes to raise a laugh (see what I did there?) Even the poster’s slogan is aimed at that area of a man “Got Protection!” I was I was protected from this horrible so-called comedy. My advice? Track down the similarly plotted yet far more entertaining Evolution.