Alien invasion offers some laughs but little more
Published: Saturday, July 28, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
Aliens are taking over the neighborhood again.
This is a story that's been told before, but it doesn't fool anyone into thinking it’s an action comedy—it is primarily a comedy with moments of violence and alien stuff going on. “The Watch,” directed by SNL writer Akiva Shaffer, attempts to approach this story like no one has before, but fails in its originality.
This is a Ben Stiller vehicle, and as such it has many of the Ben Stiller moments that have become staples of his movies. He plays an involved suburban husband named Evan that talks about the mixed cultures in his neighborhood with pride. That includes a Native American and a divorced Korean lady as the pinnacle of diversity. He is having trouble in his marriage on account of his inability to tell his wife he “shoots blanks.”
One night, the night watcher is brutally murdered at the Costco Evan works as a manager, and Evan decides to organize a neighborhood watch by announcing it at a high school football game. This attracts the strangest people in the crowd who become part of his crime busting posse, looking to solve his friends murder.
Vince Vaughn plays Bob, a dad so involved with his daughter’s life he creeps on her Facebook page and flips out when he sees a video posted of her making out with some guy. This is Bob's defining characteristic which he overcomes at the end of the film. Otherwise he is packing most of the laughs as he plays the part well and teaches Evan to loosen up, while he can't do it himself.
Jonah Hill is slightly muted as he doesn't quite get the part we're used to seeing him in movies like “Superbad” (2007) or his recent “21 Jump Street” (2011) but still manages to pull off some of the best lines in the movie. Hill plays a troubled yet charming Franklin, a guy who was rejected by the police academy and has held a grudge ever since.
The scene-stealer in the movie is Richard Ayogade, playing the part of Jamarcus. Ayogade is best known for his role in “The IT Crowd” (2006) and as the director the charming indie “Submarine” (2010), which was brought to the States by Stiller. He plays the part with interesting quality and oozes charm with his English accent, something about him that simply adds to the movie’s enjoyment.
As for the movie itself, the only redeeming qualities are in the talent of the comedians at play here, the alien invasion is poorly developed to a point where their invasion is explained by saying, “we’re aliens, we destroy planets and move on to the next one. It's what we do.” The focus of the story is these four guys having fun together and going about town having a good time.
The movie is funny enough through the actors, but there's a level of expectation coming from a script partially written by Seth Rogen that doesn't quite deliver the usual laughs. Despite its clear modest budget the movie feels small and the laughs also feel small in comparison to its invasion theme.
Three out of five picks.