In a perfect suburb of manicured lawns, running clubs and weekend football games, a group of seemingly typical suburban men commit to forming a Neighbourhood Watch group after a security guard is murdered at the local Cost-Co. The misfit group – Evan (Ben Stiller), the Cost-Co manager and stalwart of neighbourhood values; Bob (Vince Vaughn) a typical suburban Dad; Franklin (Jonah Hill) a military nut and failed police recruit; and new comer Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) – are for the most part getting together to alleviate the boredom of the day to day, but when they uncover an alien invasion conspiracy, they soon confront a lot more than they bargained for – and that’s not just the aliens.
The Watch is not in any way a remarkable or even particularly good film. It’s a take on the board suburban housewife gets in over her head genre from the male perspective. While we’ve seen it all before from both Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn (and screen writer Seth Rogen), it’s still enjoyable as a don’t-have-to-think-about-it comedy.
The plot is sparse and predictable though there are a few genuinely amusing scenarios, most of them stemming from Richard Ayoade whose presence stops this from becoming just another lazy comedy. And perhaps I’m just getting more used to him or perhaps he’s maturing as an actor but Jonah Hill wasn’t quite as annoying as he usually is, though he in no way carried the comedy or the story. There is an overkill of penis jokes and other guy oriented low-brow gross out humour, but without an expectation of sophisticated comedy these don’t irritate too much though some variation could have been to its advantage. I would really like to see what Ben Stiller and Richard Ayoade could do together with some real comedy writing.
The alien itself – played by Doug Jones of Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) and the Hellboy films (2004/2008) – was a visual treat, obviously inspired by the Alien creature (which is played with a little in a couple of the screen set ups) and the sci-fi effects are surprisingly good for a movie like this.
Yes, The Watch is an incredibly juvenile movie, and no it’s not particularly admirable, respectable or in any way memorable (except perhaps for the phrase “flavour snout”), but with such a cast and plot no one could expect it to be. The Watch meets its expectations firmly, never aspiring to be anything more than it is – a no brainer, low brow comedy. With aliens.