At the Movies - The Watch review

The Watch - from left Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller, Richard Ayoade and Vince Vaughn.
The Watch - from left Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller, Richard Ayoade and Vince Vaughn.

Sometimes, it’s as inconsistent as Nicolas Cage’s acting career and it may struggle to find its rhythm but ‘The Watch’ is not without a few laughs.

Set in tranquil, modern day American suburbia, man of the community, Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller - ‘Zoolander’, ‘Starsky and Hutch’ and ‘Tropical Thunder’) starts a neighbourhood watch group after one of his employees at the local Costco store is murdered.

Akiva Schaffer.

Akiva Schaffer.

Evan appeals to the rest of the community to join his new group but only three people attend the first meeting - Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill) and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade).

As Evan and his band of misfits attempt to discover the mysterious identity of the murderer, they soon find out that there is something much greater at stake - the future of mankind as an alien invasion is imminent and only Evan, Bob, Franklin and Jamarcus can stop it from happening.

‘The Watch’ is a comedy and it certainly made me laugh so I suppose it’s success on that level.

The blending together of such comedy heavyweights as Stiller, Hill (‘Moneyball’, ‘Superbad’ and ‘21 Jump Street’) and Vaughn (‘Swingers’, ‘The Wedding Crashers’ and ‘Dodgeball’) is and was a gamble but it’s one that has come off.

Some of the exchanges between Stiller’s uptight and über organised Evan and Vaughn’s devil may care beer guzzling Bob are absolutely hilarious.

It’s difficult to distinguish between the scenes that are actually scripted and those that are ad-libbed but it’s obvious when all four of the Watch are on screen together that they are having a good time.

Stiller is perfect as Evan and Vaughn perfectly cuts the image of a 40 something father struggling to let go of his youth, perfectly.

However, Hill threatens to steel the show as the mentally unstable, butterfly knife wielding Franklin.

In the past, I found it difficult to like Hill in movies like ‘Superbad’ and ‘Cyrus’ but I have completely changed my mind.

Hill’s performance in ‘Moneyball’, ‘21 Jump Street’ and now ‘The Watch’ prove that he’s an actor with talent, skill and versatility.

Perhaps the most disappointing component of the film was the decision by director Akiva Schafer (‘Hot Rod’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’) to cast Richard Ayoade as Jamarcus.

I’m a fan of Ayoade - I really am. I have fond memories of him as Dean Learner in ‘Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place’ and ‘Submarine’, his directorial debut, was one of my favourite movies of 2010.

However, the Ayoade that Irish and British audiences have become used to in ‘The Mighty Boosh’ and ‘The I.T. Crowd’ does not fit in in ‘The Watch’.

Ayoade is at times irritating and after the first few laughs his jokes and one liners become awfully laboured and repetitive.

‘The Watch’ may succeed on certain levels such as the exchanges between Stiller, Vaughn and Hill but it’s most definitely not without its flaws.

Firstly, the alien invasion just happens - it’s never really explained and there’s a revelation about two thirds of the way through that’s more predictable than an appearance by the reliably nauseating Jedward at the Millennium Forum.

Secondly, the script has so many holes in it that it makes a cruise on the Titanic sound promising.

Too many inconsistencies and plot introductions that never materialised left me feeling like the script was trying to go in too many directions at once.

Finally, ‘The Watch’ attempts to combine sci-fi adventure with man-child comedy and unfortunately it doesn’t quite live up to expectations.

The alien invaders are threatening, there are laughs but the Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg written script is found wanting.

The coming together of Stiller et al in American suburbia to fight off an alien invasion is entertaining but with so much talent under its belt it could have been even better.

Verdict: 2/5 - There’s scene with Stiller and Hill giving a young troublemaker a talking to in the local police station - it’s fantastically funny and it’s one of several big side splitters but it’s not enough to paper over the huge cracks left by a script suffering from multiple personality disorder. With the combination of such tried and tested comics like Stiller, Vaughn and Hill, ‘The Watch’ promises a lot but in the end it’s predictable and delivered with haste.