I have never claimed to be a screenwriter (nor would I even try to), but it seems to me that if The Watch had just been about a group of goofy, inept, over-the-top neighborhood watchmen, then it could have been a much tighter, coherent and interesting endeavor. Under the eye of director Akiva Schaffer (“Hot Rod”) and penmanship of writers Jared Stern, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, however, the film is badly-managed and all over the map — thematically speaking. Adding murder, mutilation, orgies and an ill-conceived alien invasion just shows the desperation (and bloated budget) the cast and crew were forced to work with. Never has the phrase “less is more” been so sorely needed in a so-called comedic production.
Thus, the first pairing of Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn since 2005’s “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” is sadly wasted as the laughs come few and far between. And, when they do, they are usually overshadowed by following sequences of slaughter, mayhem and utter confusion that leaves both casual film patron and experienced movie critic scratching their collective heads in complete bewilderment.
The ludicrous plot has longtime Costco manager Evan (Stiller) grieving over the killing of a Mexican security guard in a most offensive and stereotypical scene that most definitely doesn’t fit within the confines of a comedy. Appearing in front of a high school football audience (in one of the few really funny sequences), Evan makes an appeal for neighborhood watch recruits, but can only attract three weirdoes — Bob (Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill, fresh from the hilarious “21 Jump Street”) and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) — who use the situation to get away from their wives and family members and look to get drunk and party.
The quartet is a joke (a really UNfunny joke, however), being ridiculed by smart-mouthed teens, random citizens and local law enforcement. When more murders take place, though, as well as the discovery of a forthcoming alien invasion, the group begins to suspect most everyone in the small Ohio town is involved (because, evidently, the invaders can also assume human form, any further plot explanation is really unnecessary at this point).
Along the way there are also several pointless subplots in The Watch, one including Bob’s slutty daughter, Chelsea (Erin Moriarty) and another on Evan’s low sperm count; neither of which is even remotely interesting or humorous. Lame supporting characters include Will Forte (“MacGruber”) as the disbelieving town cop, and Rosemarie DeWitt (“Your Sister’s Sister”), as Evan’s wife. The final conflict takes place at the Costco store and, like the rest of the enterprise is boring, confusing and nowhere near comedic at it needed to be.
And so The Watch, the much-anticipated Stiller-Vaughn reunion (well, anticipated by SOME people, I suppose), falls flat on its face. The painfully unfunny story, that meanders around like a rudderless alien spacecraft, makes this comedy the most disappointing and depressing adventure of the year.