After a security guard is found murdered at the local Costco, the manager of the store, Evan (Stiller), decides to start up a neighborhood watch (consisting of Vaughn, Hill & Ayoade) group to keep their suburban haven safe. Their misadventures lead them to a discovery of an alien invasion and they’re the only ones ready to defend earth.
There is a firm rule in comedy: “keep it simple”. The funniest jokes aren’t the ones you have to think too hard about; they just make sense. Sadly The Watch isn’t interested in keeping it simple, instead it bogs itself down with several plot lines and high concept ideas. There is definitely a funny film struggling to get out here, the lead cast are all funny and clearly have good chemistry (Vaughn and Hill seem to be destined to play father and son at some point) but this isn’t the film for them to display their comedic chops. Director Akiva Schaffer (best known for directing Hot Rod and being part of The Lonely Island) has clearly learned from the Apatow school of improvisation as the film is dripping in extended conversations about crude topics (the similarities between the consistency of alien goo and baby juice is one that jumps to mind) but these seem to slow down the alien invasion plot that the film has on front burner.
Schaffer also seems to find it difficult to balance the tone in the film, the core four characters are silly and comedic yet the scenes that deal with the alien invasion or the murders are actually quite intense, in the hands of a more accomplished director this may work but here it really takes the viewer out of the film. The Watch seems to be quite reminiscent of the work of Joe Dante, but it misses on what made his films so successful: Dante put normal, down to earth characters in zany situations, here we have zany characters fighting aliens, there’s really nothing for us to relate to anywhere within the film. The cast aren’t stretching themselves, Stiller is the stuck up straight family man (who has a subplot about his troubled marriage that goes nowhere), Vaughn is the fast talking funny guy (gone are the days of the Dodgeball where these two switched things up a bit), Hill is the fast talking less funny guy and Ayoade has basically brought his IT Crowd character to the states. Whilst it’s not all doom and gloom, Richard Ayoade’s humour translates well to the big screen and Will Forte’s police officer is a quite funny but there are far more misses than hits
There are a few chuckles to be had in the film (mostly coming from Ayoade) but it’s stale, over cooked and quite dull at points. A disappointment.