With August just around the corner and the summer movie season coming to a close, this is usually the time when studios dump off the rest of their bigger-budget films before they head into the fall and begin prepping for the award season. Occasionally we’ve been given a few gems, but for the most part there is nothing really to get too excited over. It’s also not to favorable when a movie attempts to be released the week following an enormous blockbuster like Dark Knight Rises, but it seems The Watch has stepped up to see what monetary crumbs it can muster up from the moviegoers this weekend.
There is a lot of talent in front and behind the camera on this film, and if this film delivered on its potential this could be a surprise moneymaking giant. Unfortunately this film doesn’t manage to live up to its potential and becomes a missed opportunity for all involved. I’m not saying I didn’t like the movie; in fact I enjoyed quite a bit, but when you have Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill headlining your movie, I just expected a little more out of these guys.
Now about the movie.
What do you do when you live in the greatest town not just in the US but in the universe, and you have a suspicious murder at your local Costco? Well, you form an elite neighborhood watch, at least that is what Evan, (Stiller) the Costco store manager, decides to do after his friend Antonio is found brutally murdered while working the overnight security shift. Only three guys turn out to join the team, Bob (Vaughn), Franklin (Hill), and Jamarcus(Richard Ayoade). With his crew in tow, Evan sets off to solve the murder only to find out that things are worse than they could expect. Their perfect little town is about to be invaded by aliens.
As we get to see the neighborhood watch team in action, I couldn’t help but feel I’ve seen this all before in The Burbs as well as last year’s amazing alien invasion film out of the UK Attack the Block. But the film really doesn’t pick up much steam until the team accidentally hits “something” with their car while celebrating their first collar. When they get out to check the damage, there is nothing to be found except what looks like an octopus tentacle and a lot of green goo. It’s from here on the film heads into more sci-fi territory, and there is more fun to be had with an appearance by R. Lee Ermy doing what he does best as he dispenses obscenities at the four.
The alien design isn’t all that impressive, though it does have a few moments where it shines, my favorite being when the group takes a few photos with the alien creature. Though the design wasn’t all too original, I dig the fact that the filmmakers went the man-in-suit route and under all the makeup is Doug Jones (Hellboy and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer). Further into the film there are plenty of CGI aliens, but it was nice to see the use of more practical effects here.
The biggest problem I had with the movie centers around the characters. Instead of giving us chances to get to know them and develop any real emotional connection between them, we are given more penis-related jokes than I think have ever been put to film. I’m not a prude and I like my humor raunchy with a side of crass, but here it just was overkill and wore out its welcome fast. With the writing team of Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg being credited as co-writers I had a good idea what to expect, but it left me wanting more. Superbad for me is one of the best comedies in the past decade, not just because of the jokes but because of the relationship between the two friends. And it’s the relationship and bond that is lacking here with The Watch.
There are several bits I did like in the film. The basement reveal at Evan’s creepy neighbor’s house and the final showdown at the Costco are the standouts, but overall this just doesn’t hold up to some of the other comedies that have come out this year. What I do see is the potential to churn out several sequels with this cast together. I’d love to see these guys have to defend their neighborhood from an onslaught of zombies or some otherworldly foe.
For those of you on the fence with this one you may want to hold out for the DVD. I’m sure there will be an uncut or extended director’s cut for you to enjoy. But for those excited to see their favorite Dodgeball actors together on the screen again, then settle in with a big bag of popcorn and enjoy the show.