Director: Akiva Schaffer
Cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Billy Crudup
Running Time: 102 mins
Release Date: 24th August
Given the fact that Ben Stiller’s recent output has been family-friendly fare such as Madagascar 3 and Little Fockers, one could be forgiven for thinking that The Watch, with its 16 Certificate, signifies a return to form. Sadly, not so.
The plot is threadbare, to say the least. Stiller plays Evan Trautwig, a manager at a CostCo superstore, leader of various neighbourhood clubs, and overall nice guy. When the night-time security guard at his store dies under mysterious circumstances, Stiller resolves to form a neighbourhood watch with the help of local citizens Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade. As the film progresses, it transpires that the town is ground-zero for an alien invasion that the titular neighbourhood watch must band together to stop. As you do.
Stiller delivers the same bland performance that he’s churned out so many times before, alternating between tightly-wound (Little Fockers) and overly nice (There’s Something About Mary). Likewise, Vince Vaughn is the wise-cracking, motor-mouth everyman he’s played in pretty much every film he’s ever been attached to. It’s unfortunate that Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd) chose this as the vehicle to launch his stateside career. Considering his impressive turn directing last year’s Submarine, it’s a real shame that his next move was to appear in a low-ball comedy like this. Jonah Hill’s performance is also distinctly lacking, though the blame can be shared with the weak script and his derivative character; an emotionally unstable Travis Bickle-esque sociopath, ripped straight from Rogen’s massively unfunny Observe & Report.
The Watch does manage to scrape up a few genuine laughs; these mainly include Billy Crudup as Stiller’s neighbour and a case of mistaken identity that culminates in a cameo by the Lonely Island. But with a screenplay (by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg) this repetitive, a premise this stale, and characters this dull, a few laughs isn’t gonna cut it.