Utterly diabolical buddy comedy about a team of bumbling neighbourhood vigilantes who foil an attempted alien invasion.
Should aliens visit Earth tomorrow, they might take The Watch as proof that no intelligent lifeform exists on our planet.
The Suburban Everyman Faces Masculinity Crisis bit has never felt more dumbed down than in regular SNL scribe Akiva Schaffer's impotent sci-fi comedy. It's as if some top studio brass saw Attack the Block and decided that what this already malnourished subgenre really needed was something with less Spielbergian bite and more spunk gags. Less charm and more Vince Vaughn.
All-round do-gooder and vigilant Costco manager Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller) is a pillar of his community. So duty-bound is he to ensuring the wellbeing of his fellow Glenview residents, in fact, that when his store's Hispanic security guard is brutally killed (somewhat offensively while celebrating passing his American Citizenship exam), Evan springs into action and forms a rag-tag Neighbourhood Watch alliance.
Dysfunctional buddy comedy buffoonery abounds for the next agonising 90 minutes, as Evan, alpha male Bob (Vaughn), softly-spoken dweeb Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade, clearly here to help fund his next directorial venture) and sociopathic mamma's boy Franklin (Jonah Hill) comb the streets for clues. It's only then that they inadvertently uncover an imminent alien invasion, brick themselves, bicker about why it is they formed the Neighbourhood Watch in the first place, and then make up just in time to tear ET a new duodenum.
Whatever you made of Seth MacFarlane's recent live action comedy, Ted, his ability to fuse high concept action with both low brow humour and genuine heart made for cohesive, if not compulsive, viewing. By contrast, The Watch is what happens when low-cal (apparently largely ad-libbed) punchlines take precedent and when serious issues like male infertility and teen pregnancy are shoehorned in to manipulate the audience into feeling empathy towards the protagonists.
And where Ted scampishly poked fun at everything from same-sex marriage to Katy Perry, The Watch thinks it's fair game to parody the 2010 scandal in which several US soldiers were photographed posing with dead Afghan suicide bombers. That's not even the film's cruelest joke, and certainly not its laziest.
Incidentally, the film was originally titled Neighborhood Watch, but that was changed in reaction to the recent prosecution of a Florida neighbourhood watch volunteer charged with the murder of an unarmed African-American youth. There's no connection between the events of that tragedy and the film's plot, but it's a shame someone at 20th Century Fox didn't take it as a sign to shelve this moronic, vulgar and xenophobic twaddle.
The Stiller-Vaughn reunion the world has been waiting for.
The Hangover meet Signs. And not in a good way.
A career low for everyone involved.