At the tail end of a comic’s life their career usually goes one of two ways – firstly, there’s the dramatic route. Think of the poster boy for such a thing, Bill Murray, who has revitalised his career by attracting himself to big-name directors (or they seek him out) to deliver standout drama roles and present himself to a whole new audience that may not have witnessed him before if not for Lost in Translation or Broken Flowers, amongst others. Then there’s the comedy route, which is more of the same for another forty years – Adam Sandler. Ben Stiller seems to be somewhere in the middle. Having failed to deliver anything of note in the past decade he is now at the point in his career when a self-parody is something of a good idea (if his appearance in Extras was anything to go by). The Watch is the bland tale of a local chump who manages a Costco store and his buddy security guard is killed one night as he inexplicably celebrates being accepted as an American citizen. From here he recruits three more chums to form a neighbourhood watch and protect the rest of sunny Greenville when there’s a surprise threat is an alien invasion. Or if you like it’s a 100-minute Costco advertisement.
The Watch is one of the worst films of the year.
After a befuddling introduction in which we’re introduced to Stiller playing the same pseudo-Jerry Seinfeld character he’s been pushing for years, only this time he’s a super cool Costco manager that loves the community so much he shouts his employees six-packs of Coke when they become US citizens!
Vince Vaughn is in typical douchebag mode as the alpha father trying to save his daughter from becoming the school slut. If there’s a beacon of hope it’s Richard Ayoade, the dorkier of the two men from British sitcom The I.T Crowd. He repeats a lot of the same mannerisms here and it’s largely for the purpose of introducing him to an American crowd.
Director Akiva Schaffer struggles to join everything together and instead resorts to the ‘It’s So Random It Must Be Hilarious!’ approach of far too many comedies of late. The alien plot was never justified and feels like a last-minute measure of warranting the creation of the film, somehow. The sheer number of Costco references – if it is possible to warrant such a thing – start to make sense once you get the feeling one of their high-powered creation-less executives came up with a lot of the ideas, validated by a series of forced high-fives at the polished oak meeting table overlooking some fancy barge.
Avoid at all costs. Stay at home and watch reruns of The I.T Crowd to see Ayoade do something much funnier, with a much better cast.
Nicholas Brodie - follow Nick on Twitter here: @fodusempire
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Written by: Seth Rogen and Jared Stern
Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade