Review: The Watch

Sci-fi and comedy are two genres that are often combined and usually produce a great result when they are made by people who have a genuine love of both genres. Just a few examples of this are Mars Attacks!, Galaxy Quest, Men In Black and, more recently, Paul. But, when the filmmakers don’t have the passion for either genre you can end up with a film like The Watch.

The premise of this film is that a group of strangers get together and form a neighbourhood watch group after the horrible death of a store security guard. But, instead of trying to find and stop a run-of-the-mill murderer, they discover that aliens have infiltrated their town and are poised to launch an invasion.

This is a great premise and one that could actually be played totally straight as an out-and-out sci-fi film. But being written by Seth Rogan you can imagine that there will be some stoner or gross-out gags thrown in there. And you’d be right. Though there seems to be a laziness with the script that means the jokes don’t really work very well alongside the plot. There are long stretches where you actually forget the film is about aliens invading the Earth at all, which is a problem. There are equally long stretches where there is no comedy at all and the characters get introspective about their home lives.

Talking of characters; Ben Stiller plays Evan, the leader of various clubs including the neighbourhood watch who has a strained relationship with his wife. Stiller has been in some really good comedies in the past, but of late his star seems to be waning a little and he just looks like Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black 3 – like he doesn’t really want to be there. Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill  try to amp up the energy being sucked from the screen by Stiller and occasionally hit the mark. Though, more often than not tend to look like they’re trying too hard. Luckily Richard Ayoade is there as something fresh in amongst the tired characters we’ve seen these actors play for a decade or more. But he alone could not save this film.

The Watch could have been a great film, the premise is good, the special effects were great but the script and acting were what really let it down and in the end, it just wasn’t funny enough.

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