Monday, July 30, 2012

The Watch

THE WATCH: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade (100 min.)

Did it have to be aliens?  That's allI could thinking about while watching The Watch, a new "comedy" from Ben Stiller and a few of his buds.  The film is about a straight-laced, uptight suburbanite (Stiller) who starts up a neighborhood watch with a hothead (Vince Vaughn), a military kid (Jonah Hill), and a British nerdling (Richard Ayoade) after one of his employees is found murdered in the Costco he manages.  Turns out, aliens are responsible for the murder and they have a plan of world domination and they are under the Costco and yadda yadda...

Did it have to be aliens?

Every other summer movie is about aliens taking over or alien battles or scaly, slimy green guys scaring everyone.  Why is it shoehorned into a movie that could have been funny if it just let these comedic talents roll with a story about the mob infiltrating a small town, or a killer among the suburbanites?  No, it had to be aliens.  Uninteresting, uninspired aliens.  Then again very little about The Watch is inspired or original or, when all is said and done, interesting.  Those moments of ad-libbing are amusing sometimes, but then the story gets in the way.

Stiller's Evan is a married man who occupies his time starting groups and clubs in the neighborhood of his beloved Ohio suburb.  His neighborhood watch manages to catch the attention of Bob, played by Vince Vaughn who just mails in another version of the same character you remember from better movies.  He swigs beer and talks fast, mostly yelling, and makes you long for the days when Vince Vaughn starred in smaller comedies and worked.  Jonah Hill is lifeless as Franklin, a suburban Travis Bickle wannabe who seems confused as to why he is in this movie when he could do so much more.  Richard Ayoade, the unknown of the group, has some funny moments as Jamarcus, the nerdy British partner.  Just not enough of them.

Much of the humor in The Watch involves the male reproductive organ, over and over until I became convinced the screenplay just said "Dick Jokes" for pages and pages insteadof dialogue.  Sometimes they are funny, but more often than not they are repetitive and flat.  The entire film is flat, lifeless, but not bad to a point where it generates true hatred.  It is too inoccuous to generate anything resembling a raised pulse.  And like I mentioned earlier, make the villains something besides extraterrestrials for a change.  What a tired group who ring false in a film like this.  The whole picture feels cobbled together out of ill-fitting parts, including a strange subplot about Evan's infertility and Bob's promiscuous teenage daughter.  They had to have existed in another movie at some point along the way.  Maybe the studio execs were carrying three screenplays across a room and they fell to the floor and got all mixed up. 

That would explain the aliens.