The Watch follows the grand tradition of combining sci-fi, fantasy and comedy. Like Gremlins, Evil Dead, and Paul before it, The Watch teeters on that borderline of irony and it adds a more grounded take on the genre. For the most part, the movie went beyond my expectations — and my expectations were quite low.
The movie focuses on the life of Evan (Ben Stiller), an average, sheltered suburban husband who is the most likable guy in the neighborhood. He is in charge of the local run club, he teaches Spanish at the old folks home, he’s the manager at Costco (which, by the way, got TONS of publicity in this movie), he’s a loyal husband to Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt, and he broadens his cultural horizons by trying to include a person of each ethnicity in his social circle. When a murder happens at his Costco, he starts a neighborhood watch to help keep the streets safe. Joining his little crew are Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill), and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). While on a stake out, they discover that their little suburban neighborhood is being invaded by aliens. Thus begins our sci-fi comedic adventure.
Directed by Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer, and written by Jared Stern, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, The Watch seems like a movie that I should have been excited about, but as said, my expectations weren’t that high. Perhaps it was because the cast included Stiller, Hill and Vaughn. Sure, I enjoy all of their work, but there seemed to be something a bit generic and predictable about the casting. It almost seemed formulaic: take three comedic actors and throw them in a crazy situation and you are guaranteed a hit. In the end, Stiller acted like Stiller, Hill acted like Hill and Vaughn acted like Vaughn — then there was Richard Ayoade who added complimenting freshness to the mix — and it wasn’t just his British accent. It was his British dry humor. For those who are obsessed with British comedy, you may already know Ayoade. You also may know him as the director of the lauded film, Submarine. In other words, if you are a high brow snob of comedy and such, then you know him. The Watch is the perfect vehicle to introduce to us Americans.
The movie could have been the same ol’ stuff from the exclusive club of 21st century funny men, but it wasn’t — it almost was — but in the end, it wasn’t. Despite the mediocre heartfelt storyline between Abby and Tom and the minimal screen time of Billy Crudup‘s as the creepy omnisexual neighbor, the movie is worth the Watch! (GET IT?!) Also, the movie still managed to make dick jokes relevant and funny to a sci-fi plot…and everyone knows that aliens and dick jokes are one in the same.
The Watch opens in theaters today.