IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 102 mins
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
In the small town of Glenview, Ohio, Evan Trautwig is an active participant in the community and the senior manager of the local Costco store. His life is disrupted when the store’s night security guard is murdered. The local police have no leads and show no interest in investigating further. Determined to find the killer and bring him to justice, Evan decides to form a Neighbourhood Watch. However, he only manages to recruit three other guys, and they seem to want to use the group as an excuse to drink and have fun, much to Evan’s annoyance. While driving on patrol they accidentally hit a strange metallic orb that acts as a highly destructive weapon, and later, after some more killings, encounter an alien in the woods who is certainly not benevolent…..
The Dictator and Ted made me somewhat regain my faith in movie comedy, which, to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, ain’t like it used to. It seems that comedic films are either just for very small children, sappy rom-coms or crude exercises in vulgarity for teenage boys, the latter kind seeming to dominate at the moment thanks to Judd Apatow and his like. Now of course I’m not saying I don’t like vulgar humour; the two films I mentioned at the start of this paragraph had that in abundance, and they used to make tons of smutty films of the kind they’re making now back in the 80’s, but they were often actually likeable and well written. Most recent comedies leave me cold and I wonder if there will ever be a return to real wit and humour aimed at mature adults. The Watch is the latest charmless, dumb so-called comedy to come out of Hollywood, a sort of The Hangover [which admittedly was surprisingly good] meets Ghostbusters, but none of the quality of either.
I don’t know why I did it. The trailer for The Watch was hardly impressive, considering that they are supposed to select especially funny bits of the film to show in trailers, but like an idiot I went to see the film and within fifteen minutes knew I was onto a loser. The opening scene is quite promising. Evan leaves work and says to his security guard he can help himself to a couple of things. The guard gets totally drunk and messes around, set to one of those awful misogynist rap ‘songs’ where the women are ‘hoes” and “bitches”, until we have relief from the ear-assaulting garbage when he is killed by an unseen monster, his blood spattering all over a door. In fact the whole ‘serious’ element of the film does sometimes create a feeling of fear, but is undone by non-stop pillaging of ideas from much better films [aliens who look like the ones from the Alien films but can also wear the skins of humans] and sheer stupidity [in their alien form, they are far larger than humans yet can still wear their skins].
Of course the majority of the movie centres around our four charmless heroes, who are characterised by; is lonely and avoiding sex with his wife because he is infertile; is fun loving but also obsessed with his daughter’s sex life; is very aggressive and has a liking for knives and guns, and just, well, thinks about sex a lot; that last is pretty much how Richard Ayoade’s character is characterised. Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn play variations on their usual roles but it’s hard to tell if we are supposed to laugh at their ‘issues’ or whether said issues are supposed to add a bit of serious weight to the film. In any case, the majority of the film’s humour, indeed the majority of the whole film, just consists of chat, and occasional incidents, involving things like cum, piss and dicks. In fact, there is so much penis-centred humour that the film threatens to almost become a bizarre exercise in homo-eroticism, but then of course the supremely talentless Seth Rogen, who co-wrote this piece of rubbish but I suppose is preferable behind the camera than in front of it, has indulged a penis fetish in previous work.
The occasional line is amusing but for the most part The Watch, like many recent comedies, just seems to think that things to do with genitals and sex are so funny in themselves that they don’t need additional laughs. Out of the cast Jonah Hill is just unpleasantly scary in a role which is supposed to be hilarious [the tedious and offensive sight of just one more ‘funny’ gun nut in a film could actually drive me to shooting someone], and Richard Ayoade seems to give the impression he doesn’t know what he is doing in the film. The Watch is thoroughly tiresome stuff. It doesn’t even have much pace, and the constant potty- mouthed talk not only becomes very boring but is mostly delivered by a cast who seem just as fed-up with it as I was. This is the sort of concept people like Abbot and Costello would have used back in the 40’s and it would have been ten times funnier and not needed a single rude word. The last shot of The Watch has our heroes walking in slow motion in a supposedly heroic or cool way, but I couldn’t wait to see the back of them, and that’s bad coming from somebody who used to be a bit of a Ben Stiller fan.