Review: THE WATCH

By Laurie Coker

Rating: D

Only one actor’s nearly overall body of work and chosen characters hold my disdain. Ben Stiller’s movies typically bore, disgust, appall, disappoint and generally make me question the intelligence of those who participate and produce his films. Add to this the tired, now tedious rants of Vince Vaughn and I find myself dreading a screening involving them. Such is the case with The Watch, which also stars Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade.  To this type/genre of film, I usually take one particular guy, and he generally enjoys this type of idiotic, raunchy trash, but even he disliked The Watch.

I suppose I should be fairer. I have enjoyed quite a few films involving Stiller (Night at the Museum, Tropic Thunder), but none the vulgar or imbecilic ones (Zoolander, Along Came Polly, the Focker films). In this he plays CostCo store manager, perpetual club starter, and basically all around decent guy Evan. Because his night security man is brutally murdered, he starts a neighborhood watch.  He is joined by police reject Franklin (Hill), stressed dad Bob (Vaughn) and quirky Jamarcus (Ayoade), each with a side agenda for joining the group. Soon after beginning their patrol, they discover aliens who seek to destroy the world.  Nasty language, foul tasteless sexual references and a completely stupid storyline leave little redeeming value to any aspect of the movie.

That said, I will note that Ayoade brings freshness to the flaccid ramblings of the other three. I have grown weary of Vaughn’s adlibbing, Hill’s, too, for that matter. Stiller’s straight man falls flat as well. It is too bad that these guys can’t branch out beyond these characters. Ayoade, however, might have saved this mess had screenwriter Seth Rogen (who I am surprised didn’t create a smarter story) given more time to him and less to the other three.  His character, Jamarcus, afforded me the few chuckles I got out of the entire affair, but Jamarcus did not make my friend laugh and remember, he usually enjoys this stuff.

I suppose, all things considered, Rogen’s film might be funnier, had director Akiva Schaffer not allowed his stars to carry (or least so it seems to me) much of their own dialogue. Simply put, whatever story there is, is lost in the stupidity and nastiness of the leads’ bantering.  And besides that fault, the tales is totally transparent and honestly not really new either.

I know the R-rated The Watch will find an audience and make a truck load of money opening week end, which is why Stiller, Vaughn and Hill continue to do these movies. They have bills to pay after all. The guys sitting next to me (also critics) laughed out loud often and so did many in the audience, although I heard mostly male voices.  I felt cheated, and I didn’t even buy a ticket. I did, however, pay for gas, and my time is worth something.  I am placing a D in my grade book. Ayoade keeps it from being lower and so do a couple of decent cameos.  Oh, bravo to the special effects team for some darn impressive alien creations.

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