The Watch contains some heavy hitter comedy names in it’s cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughan, Jonah Hill & Richard Ayoade. From the cast alone you would be entitled to at least a collective thought of ,“hmm maybe that’s funny” (speculative at best). The only problem is that seemingly the cast didn’t read the script before signing on to the film. “What’s that you say, Vince Vaughan is on board!” said Ben Stiller’s agent, likewise I imagine Vaughan’s agent to be simultaneously be on the phone singing Ben Stiller’s praises while some suit laughs at his master plan to polish a turd.
The plot of The Watch is as follows: In a suburban town Evan (Ben Stiller) manager of a CostCo. has the misfortune of one of his employees being killed in his store, from this he decides to put together a neighbourhood watch to patrol the streets. No one really takes this seriously but the locals who do turn up are Bob (Vince Vaughan), Franklin (Jonah Hill) & Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) a mismatched team. They soon find that rather than just protecting their town from a murderer they’re actually trying to protect it from an alien invasion.
It is as if the film were written backwards having to fill in plot details which account for the ending because otherwise it’s just inexplicably bad. Subplots pop out of nowhere & are given far too much weight to lead to nothing. But in general is it just full of unfunny cliches and possibly a total of 5 mild laughs throughout it’s running time. I spent the duration pondering way too much on whether the name Jamarcus was supposed to be a joke, due to the way Ayoade says it and the slight pause afterwards. My conclusion was that yes, it is indeed an attempt as a subversion of the name Marcus, joke noted. But devoid of a good script the brain starts to wonder, the director Akiva Schaffer (one part of the Lonely Island SNL digital short team) tries to fall back on the actors ad libbing lines but this only unfortunately proves there aren’t that many alien anecdotes to be told.
Ben Stiller is toned down and no longer seems to act with the same energy he used to give. He plays a house husband & manager of CostCo, it is a rather tenuous link to the story as this only shows up at the start and end of the film in a very disappointing set up for a singular joke which seems more like a repetitive quip than actually funny. Vince Vaughan as Bob is unconvincing as a stupid naive neighbour, which is saying a lot when even this is hard to portrait. Jonah Hill attempts to step out of being pigeon-holed & plays a psychotic teen.. with tendencies of Jonah Hill. He probably has the funniest moments in this film due to his improvisations but these are rare (see 5 mild laughs). Richard Ayoade is dead pan as you would expect but all too familiar & sparse. For the uninitiated his acting presence is what you could describe as otherworldly geek.
The Watch does a great job at trying to nail down the worst film of 2012 title & goes to show that you can’t just throw a bunch of big name actors at a terrible script and expect gold. Although the poster & trailer cut to a Skrillex backing track is probably enough to draw a general crowd, I highly advise that you stay away from this one. “The Watch”… (you can insert your own joke here.. something about not watching is probably suitable.)