Courtesy of Melissa Sue Gordon
“The Watch” is about four funny guys dropped into last year’s sci-fi story, riffing off one another because there’s barely enough material in the script. You could do worse for a summer comedy, but you could also do a whole lot better.
The excuse to get all of these comedic actors in one movie: a security guard is brutally murdered at a Costco managed by uptight everyman, Evan (Ben Stiller, “Tropic Thunder”). Evan sets up a neighborhood watch group, composed of loud, overprotective father Bob (Vince Vaughn, “The Dilemma”); psychotic police academy reject Franklin (Jonah Hill, “21 Jump Street”); and sheepish sex-obsessed weirdo Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade, “The IT Crowd”). They treat the watch as a boy’s club, donning monogrammed jackets and drinking during stakeouts, until they discover an alien plot brewing in their small town that threatens the world.
You could say a comedy is only as good as it is funny. If that’s the case, “The Watch” is mediocre. Comedy can come from many places in a movie: the premise, the events that take place, how the characters behave and even from the individual lines of dialogue. “The Watch” relies on the latter two sources, but the problem is that the characters are ones we’ve seen before and the jokes in the dialogue are aimless.
“The Watch” heavily relies on its R-rated humor, mostly going for references to genitalia and gore rather than anything relevant to the situation. These jokes could be inserted into any movie and still have the same (low) impact, so they end up feeling more like padding than actual jokes. When an hour-and-a-half-long movie feels padded, you know there’s a problem.
There are a few attempts at deriving laughs from scenes where the unlikely suburbanite heroes perform action movie stunts like running from explosions or dual-wielding handguns, but these are farces that have been handled better in “Pineapple Express” and “Hot Fuzz.” Even the aliens look derivative, like lame first-drafts of the “Predator” creature.
So, is there any reason to see this movie? Well, as bad as the story is, the cast is still made up of some funny people. You can tell they aren’t working with much, and with that in mind they do surprisingly well. The timing and delivery of the jokes is great, and when they’re all huddled up doing shtick it’ll probably get some chuckles out of you. It’s not at all memorable and people won’t be quoting this movie by summer’s end, but it’s good for a few laughs.