Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Watch

Directed by Akiva Schaffer.
2012. Rated R, 102 minutes.
Richard Ayoade
Rosemarie DeWitt
Mel Rodriguez
Erin Moriarty
Nicholas Braun
Joe Nunez

Evan (Stiller) is the manager of the local Costco and the organizer guy in the town of Glenview, Ohio. He creates clubs and committees for everything. Naturally, after his buddy Antonio Guzman (Nunez), the after-hours security guard at said Costco, is murdered in the store, Evan organizes a neighborhood watch to find the killer. Only three people answer his call to duty: Bob (Vaughn), Franklin (Hill) and Jamarcus (Ayoade). They aren’t the most dedicated soldiers. However, as long as there are plenty of cold Budweisers around they’re happy. In any event, they get more than they bargained for when it becomes evident that hostile aliens are responsible for the killing. You’ll notice I've already mentioned two brand names. You will become well acquainted with them as well as Ray-O-Vac batteries and Magnum condoms. In other words, product placement and penis jokes ensue.

Strangely, between all the commercials flying at us exists a fun movie with a wacky premise. Ben Stiller plays himself, as always, so you already know if you think he’ll make you laugh. Vince Vaughn also does his normal schtick. However, he seems much more into it than he has in quite some time and is really pretty amusing. Less known Richard Ayoade also provides us with a few chuckles and the cameo by the great R. Lee Ermey is downright hilarious. Still, our heartiest laughs go to Jonah Hill. His character is not quite off type, but he approaches it from a different angle than normal. It works wonders. The four share a nice chemistry making the banter between them enjoyable.

Most surprising is there are a pair of well-executed human stories mixed in to all the advertisements and raunchy jokes. One involves the state of the relationship between Evan and his wife Abby played by Rosemarie DeWitt, here looking very Tina Fey-ish. The other is about Bob and his daughter, the rebellious Chelsea (Moriarty). Both work better than expected as if organic to the tale and not shoe-horned in just because. In fact, I enjoy these parts of movie more than the main plot.

That main plot, of course, heavily involves aliens. It’s rather lazy in almost all regards and seems ill-fitting of the movie they’re in. Though set up to play as a spoof of alien invasion flicks, the effort is only half-hearted. This includes creature design awfully similar to some rather famous cinematic extra-terrestrials. By the end, we realize their entire story line is just one long dick joke. No pun intended. Sorta. Okay, I’m lying. Either way, the punchline to this particular dick joke is rendered ineffective by all the ones that came before it. Sorry. Sorta.

Despite the rampant commercialism, lazy sci-fi and endless succession of genital humor I found The Watch fun to sit through. I realize these aspects are a complete turn-off for many, hence the abysmal reviews this has generally garnered. They are for me, normally. They even keep me from grading this as a great movie. However, maybe I was just in the right frame of mind. Maybe I’m more susceptible to such humor than I’d like to believe. In any event, the guys kept my interest and made me laugh. At the end of the day that’s all I ask out of my comedies.

MY SCORE: 6.5/10

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