Someone needs to tell Seth Rogen that alien invasion comedies just don’t work. Last year, he penned the unremarkable “Paul.” This year he lowers the bar further with “The Watch” – a film as generic and largely disproportional as the Costco the plot centers around.
Four everyday suburban guys come together as an excuse to escape their humdrum lives one night a week. But when they accidentally discover that their town has become overrun with aliens posing as ordinary suburbanites, they have no choice but to save their neighborhood — and the world — from total extermination. (Synopsis by 20th Century Fox)
With this much comedy talent, you would expect they might have the script before signing on. Perhaps they only read their paychecks. Ben Stiller plays the straight man to Vince Vaughn, who spends more time chewing scenery than Robin Williams on a coke bender. I’d like to think that Vince was trying to improv some comedy into the script, but sadly those are just the real jokes falling flat. Worst still, the plot feels like little more patching material between the miserable jokes.
Jonah Hill’s character at least makes sense in this world as a high school and police academy dropout who is hell-bent on vigilante justice to prove he’s a man. It feels like I’m back at the Citizen’s Police Academy. His character could literally not exist and cause little harm the plot, he at least gets a few good lines. At least Rogen took care of his own.
The only actors that manage to survive this without losing credibility are relative newcomer Richard Ayoade and Will Forte. Then again, after being a part of “That’s My Boy,” I’m not sure Forte had much credibility to lose. Ayoade shines simply because he doesn’t do much acting in relation to Stiller and Vaughn. Forte manages to spend the majority of the film off-screen only to show up as a caricature of a small-town cop.
By the second act, the film is already in its death throes. The supposed emotional impact sub-plot revolving around Stiller’s failure to get his wife pregnant is spinning into oblivion. The jokes still aren’t funny. Yet still we plod on into the increasingly generic script. The boys get trashed some more. Stumble upon the alien’s base. Perform some vigilante justice and save the day. Huzzah. There just isn’t much to enjoy here. No humor. No plot. No relatable character. Everyone involved in this could (and has) done better.
“The Watch” so pathetically generic that the most exciting part of the movie-going experience was getting frisked going into the film. Not to mention the armed guards walking the aisles as the film played—although they may have only been there to keep people from getting up and leaving.
“See It/ Rent It/ Skip It”: Skip it. Lonely Island alumni Akiva Schaffer would do better sticking to music and leaving this film thing alone. First “Hot Rod,” then this?
ONE AND A HALF STARS out of four.
Directed by Akiva Schaffer.
Rated R for some strong sexual content including references, pervasive language, and violent images.
Runtime: 1 hr. 38 min.