Four boy-men guard their neighborhood from aliens.
Director: Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod)
Screenplay: Jared Stern (Mr. Popper’s Penguins), Seth Rogen (The Green Hornet), Evan Goldberg (Goon)
Cast: Ben Stiller (Tower Heist), Vince Vaughn (Fred Claus)
Runtime: 95 min
by John DeSando
Although it has the flavor and script pattern of Ghostbusters, The Watch is so far from a classic that it might serve as the definitive model for boy-men comedies that don’t get comedy. Four suburban, beer-swilling stiffs discover an alien invasion and attempt to thwart it.
Led by Costco manager Evan (Ben Stiller), the Neighborhood Watch team looks more like low-rent Keystone Cops than a parody of contemporary masculinity: Evan is a tightly-wound, blank shooting (as in sperm) husband of a sexually-frustrated, but loving wife (Rosemary DeWitt): Franklin (Jonah Hill) is a wired cop wannabe, Bob (Vince Vaughan) is an overly-protective dad, who, like most Vaughan characters, just wants to have fun; and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) is a likeable Brit with a big secret, who doesn’t always make sense.
Most of the setups, such as a foul-mouthed curmudgeon neighbor with a shotgun and the teen-age orgy, are by now cliché’s of slasher films and derivative teen comedies, and in this film fall flat. Although Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg of Superbad and Pineapple Express should have made a difference in helping head writer Jared Stern, very little worked, a wasteland of male bonding with no wit. Give the writers credit, though, for weaving a male potency motif that extends from Evan’s inadequacy through the green alien slime that tastes and smells like sperm to where most effectively to dispatch the aliens. In fact, the phallus is the defining object determining success or failure in this surface world of male fantasy.
Having just watched the exceptionally funny Intouchables from France, I can say I do laugh at films, but only ones with witty dialogue and premises with some heft.
The Watch was originally going to be called “Neighborhood Watch” until the vigilante in Florida killed a teenager caused a national stir, so the film seems emasculated by contrast with reality and so hyper-sexualized as to be not even sexy. I wouldn’t “watch” it if I were you.
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at WCBE.org.
He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel
Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com