Things could not have gone much worse for this movie. Not only was this film postponed, but it was also released domestically on the opening weekend of the Olympics. To make matters worse, The Watch was the brunt of more than a few thrashings from movie critics. Due to a plethora of terrible initial reviews, and an extremely poor box office showing, I went into The Watch expecting to hate it. Imagine my surprise when I saw this film, and not only found it to be tolerable, but actually enjoyable and pretty damn funny.
After a friend and employee of his is brutally murdered, Evan (Ben Stiller) starts up a neighborhood watch to deal with the threat of a killer, but quickly discovers he is dealing with something much more sinister, a potential alien invasion. The premise is nothing particularly special or original, and although other films like Attack the Block make much better use of the concept, the plot execution in The Watch was fine, albeit predictable. While not all of the humor was successful, I left the theater with the overall impression that it was a solid, R-rated comedy, which is exactly what I expected considering it was co-written by Seth Rogan.
As for the actors, I thought just about all of them met my expectations as far as humor was concerned. I’m not really a fan of Vince Vaughn in general, but I have to admit, he is quite funny in this film and has one of the most memorable lines of the movie. Jonah Hill is, predictably, good, but the bright spot of this movie for me was Richard Ayoade, a lesser-known British actor who recently directed a truly wonderful film called Submarine. Despite being the least famous person in this all-star cast, he not only provided the most laughs but also was the most charismatic onscreen presence, even among the likes of Stiller and Vaughn.
Despite the great actors in this movie, the real reason I went to see this movie, along with many other movie nerds, is because it is the first “big” film directed by Akiva Schaffer of Lonely Island fame. I personally loved the first film he directed, Hot Rod, and hoped that The Watch would provide similarly bizarre and quirky humor. While The Watch doesn’t deliver on that front, as it’s a very conventional comedy in many respects, it does have an amazing cameo by all three members of The Lonely Island, which on its own justifies seeing this movie.
While it may be the unpopular opinion, I will go up to bat for this movie. Sure, it’s no 21 Jump Street, but it is actually funny, if not somewhat juvenile at times. This movie probably isn’t going to be remembered as a great comedy, but it’s certainly a good one, and I’m a little bit uncertain why this movie was torn to pieces by critics, when I personally found it to be a film that I would probably recommend for anyone who is just looking for a few good laughs.
Rating: 3 out of 5