Movie Review: “The Watch”- It is Watchable

Written by Ethan Butler July 30, 2012

Being a big fan of director Akiva Schaffer’s previous film, “Hot Rod”, and ‘The Lonely Island’, I was looking forward to seeing “The Watch”. The film’s trailers seemed to suggest that the film (on top of having a cast of excellent comedic actors) would feature the same kind of odd humour that makes “Hot Rod” and ‘The Lonely Island’ so enjoyable.  Alas, this is not fully the case; the film in the end fails to live up to the hilarity of “Hot Rod”, and ‘The Lonely Island’. The film tells the tale of a man who, following the murder of a “friend” forms a neighbourhood watch, which stumbles upon an alien invasion plot.

I will say this, the film is not nearly as bad as many other critics make it out to be. There are far worse movies one could see at the theatre than “The Watch” (such as the other new wide release this past weekend- hint it’s another “Step Up” movie). It features plenty of funny moments, jokes, and scenarios that I personally found to be highly amusing. It certainly is not a comedy for everyone; people above the age of say 25 may not enjoy it as much, but for people below that it should prove to be quite enjoyable.

King of the Hill

The other actors in the film are alright, but it is Oscar Nominee Jonah Hill who, in my personal opinion, steals the show. His character fits right in Hill’s comedic wheelhouse and, to be honest, he nails it. Most of the lines that he said in the film were the ones that allowed me the heartiest of chuckles. His willingness to buy fully into the absurdity of everything that he says and does is what makes his performance stand out. However, the rest of the cast came across somewhat differently.

The Other Guys

The rest of the main cast is filled out with two well established comedy stars and one British actor/director whose prior work is excellent (as I am told). Ben Stiller’s character for a large portion of the film comes across as something of a buzz kill, albeit the film’s tonal and pacing issues don’t help him much. Vince Vaughn, who is known for playing fast talking funny men, is at times just overkill as he says so much and so loud one occasionally does not have time to register if anything funny was actually said, or if it was all just loud noises and hand gestures. Richard Ayoade is generally good when he is given something to say or do, but for most of the film I got the feeling that he was being grossly underused, not a detriment to him, more to the film’s script.

Theatre of the Absurd

What makes this film (for the most part) work is its high level of absurdity. Like its more hilarious predecessor “Hot Rod”, the main source of humour in “The Watch” is the absurdity and silliness of the situations that the characters find themselves in. Whether it is an interesting run-in with some young ruffians, looking for suspicious characters in the ‘Costco’ where Stiller’s character is the senior manager, or winding up at hilarious orgies featuring an odd yet great cameo by ‘The Lonely Island’, this is the style of comedy that one should anticipate if you plan to see this movie.

In the end

Overall the film is an enjoyable enough movie, but it would better to see it on cheap night at your local theatre. The absurdity of many of the things that occur in the film is what may prove to be its biggest draw. The cast does what it can with a somewhat lacking script and less than desirable direction. Jonah Hill, along with the absurdity and silliness of the overall film, are what give the film its comedic edge. In the end, the best way to describe “The Watch” is to call it weird, wacky, and not too bad.

My Rating: 6.5/10


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