Directed by Akiva Schaffer
Starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill
Running Time 101 Minutes, Rated R.
2 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com
Akiva Schaffer is one of three members of the Lonely Island comedy trio. They’re the guys who do the digital shorts for SNL. Members include Schaffer, Jorma Taconne, and the more famous Andy Samberg. Their comedy is crude and way off the center, just the way I like it.
Their stuff isn’t for everyone, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you like it, then good for you, if not, then no offense taken. Schaffer previously directed the oddly superb “Hot Rod”, starring Samberg and Taconne, and if you’re a fan of that than you and I could be very good friends. For most it’s not their cup of goofy tea, but “Hot Rod”, much like Taconne’s directed “MacGruber”, that also has started to pick up a cult following, was consistent in its beat of a different drum throughout, and that’s what makes those two films extra funny to me.
The sin with the all-over-the-place-but-humour- “The Watch” is that it wants to be goofy weird, but it’s big league Fox Studios and hefty 68 million dollar budget doesn’t allow for that. “The Watch” is more watered down than a Houston resident’s front lawn, and more confused about how to handle itself than a chicken in a pillow factory. Not coming close to the R rated “Ghostbusters it wants to be, “The Watch” meets its umpteenth quota of Costco and genital jokes. This film makes it hard at times to engage comfortably in this film’s title.
Ben Stiller plays the control freak Evan, a Costco manager who spends his time starting clubs and confusing the members with friends. When one of his employees is killed by, and the trailer gives it away, extraterrestrials, Evan starts a neighborhood watch. Evan may take it seriously, but the joined members Bob (Vince Vaughn) looks at it as a buddy club, Franklin (Jonah Hill) wants to work out some mental issues, and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) is newly divorced and looking for adventure. Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill you know, but it’s the British comedian Ayaode, who directed last year’s stellar “Submarine”, who gets to be the odd Zach Galifianakas like comedy breakout here.
“The Watch” bounces all over the place, and rarely results in big laughs due to a lowest common demoninator script that comes from none other than Seth Rogen. Lots of sit down scenes of the four shooting the excrement. You can see them struggle, almost aimlessly throwing comedy darts and missing the board all together. There was a time when Vaughn’s rapid fire did it for me, but here he’s amped up higher than usual on some sort of Vaughn steroids. I know it’s his thing to interrupt, but for goodness sake Vince, let Ben get out a line or two. At times Vaughn hijacks the film, and I suppose he bullied Schaffer into letting him be the heavy at times.
It’s not that each of these successful comedians doesn’t get a laugh or two, but for my ticket of admission price it was Will Forte in a much smaller part who got a laugh from me every time he was onscreen. This isn’t nearly enough to win anyone over. Rosemary DeWitt, who just came off of the splendid “Your Sister’s Sister” is wasted as Stiller’s wife, and so is Billy Crudup as Stiller’s peculiar neighbor.
I came, I saw, and I watched a disappointing film drown in inconsistency.
I came, I saw, and I watched a disappointing “this” drown in inconsistency.