In one of the featurettes on The Watch Blu-ray, producer Shawn Levy says the key to the movie was the casting, and that’s kinda the problem, as they don’t seem to have spent a whole lot of time on anything else. The film lines up a potent quartet of comedy actors, and seems to assume their presence alone can make the movie work, even though the script spends most of the time meandering around a plot that’s pretty much join-the-dots.
A lot of the time it feels like the plan is to plonk the four guys in a scenario that’s potentially comic and then assume they’re going to magically make it hilarious, even though they often don’t have a huge amount to work with. It’s not a terrible film and fills an hour and a half in vaguely entertaining fashion, but it doesn’t add up to an awful lot.
Ben Stiller plays Evan, the rather uptight manager of the warehouse like Costco (a real US wholesaler that gives a backdrop for the film’s copious product placement) who spends much of his time setting up clubs and organisations rather than having a real social life. After one of his workers is killed, he decides to launch a neighbourhood watch scheme, but only gets three recruits – Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill) and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) – who mainly see it as an excuse to get away from their family lives for a while.
After another murder occurs, the guys begin to realise that their town isn’t being targeted by a psycho – it’s actually subject to an alien invasion, and with the cops being utterly useless they may be the only ones who can stop.
It’s a premise ripe for laughs, but The Watch doesn’t mine it to the fullest. Weak subplots about Evan being sterile and Bob getting overprotective of his daughter feel like filler, and although there are some amusing ideas – for example the aliens can only be killed by being shot in the dick – most of the time it does little more than raise a weak smile. Stiller, Vaughn, Hill and Ayoade do their utmost to keep things ticking along and indeed they often make individual scenes pretty entertaining, but without strong glue to hold things together there’s only so much they can do.
Things improve significantly once the movie gets going, but you have to wait nearly an hour until the action and laughs start to ramp up. The last 25 minutes are actually pretty good, but the rest rarely rises above the level of being kind of okay and often feels a bit random. You probably won’t hate it, but there are undoubtedly a lot better comedies and a lot better alien invasion flicks out there.
Oddly though, the special features are pretty good. The deleted scenes are okay, the gag reel is funny and the ‘Jonah Hill Alternate Takes’ are amusing, with the young funnyman riffing as he tries to find the funniest line. ‘The Watchmakers’ Featurette is an okay jaunt behind-the-scenes, while ‘Alien Invasions & You’ sees the cast and crew what they’d do if ET really did attack. Finally the surprisingly amusing ‘Casting The Alien’, pretends the main alien was played by a real extra-terrestrial, who answer questions in an interview.
The Blu-ray itself offers decent but not amazing picture quality and the audio is okay too.
Overall Verdict: While The Watch could be worse, it’s a fairly perfunctory alien invasion comedy that heavily relies of it stars to bring the laughs, but doesn’t give them much to work with. The end is entertaining but the rest is little more than just about passable.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac