A gang of idiots combines forces to hunt down a murderer only to learn that the murderer is an alien plotting an invasion of their small town in The Watch, a film that is less notable for any of its own merits and more for being affected by the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin shooting case.
20th Century Fox was forced to change the name of its upcoming comedy Neighborhood Watch when neighborhood watchman Zimmerman shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012. The studio overreacted as it scrambled to change its marketing plan, essentially killing the film's chances for box office success.
Because, you know, audiences aren't smart enough to separate a real-life shooting from a comedy about an alien invasion.
The Watch stars Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade, and behaves exactly how you would expect a movie starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade to behave. Stiller plays a neurotic loser, Vaughn a beer-loving idiot and Hill an awkward chubby bunny, which means they're just borrowing from other, funnier roles of their own creation. I don't know who Richard Ayoade is.
Even when The Watch isn't laugh-out-loud funny - which is often - director Akiva Schaffer maintains a fast pace and a steady dose of silliness. The movie is inconsistently funny but typically entertaining. Much of the humor is forced, but the cast is good enough to gloss over the script's deficiencies. Vaughn is the wild card: he isn't nearly as good as he was in his prime, but he also injects the most energy into the production. Ayoade is also amusing at times.
The Watch doesn't always hit the mark, and by and large it's forgettable, but there are enough moments that make it surprisingly fun. Fun, but forgettable. Way to overachieve.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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