Reviewed by: Russell Emory
pervasive sexual crudity and vulgarity
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|Featuring:||Jonah Hill … Franklin
Ben Stiller … Evan
Vince Vaughn … Bob
Richard Ayoade … Jamarcus
R. Lee Ermey
Will Forte … Sergeant Bressman
|Producer:||21 Laps Entertainment
Twentieth Century Fox
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
When I do a review of other people’s work, I try to be constructive and helpful, and I always try to say something nice, especially if I don’t particularly like or enjoy that work. I am having a very hard time doing that with “The Watch.” The movie stars Ben Stiller as Evan Trautwig, a Costco store manager in small-town Ohio. Also, along for the ride is Vince Vaughn as Bob, Jonah Hill as Franklin, Richard Ayoade as Jamarcus, Billy Crudup as Evan’s “creepy neighbor,” and Rosemarie DeWitt as Evan’s wife Abby.
Evan is a busy man; he has started many clubs in his small Ohio town, a Spanish club and running club, as examples. He leads a seemingly mundane life until the night security guard at his Costco is murdered on duty. Evan is motivated by his employee’s murder and the lack of interest in solving the case by the police to start a neighborhood watch. Evan is joined by Bob, Franklin, and Jamarcus as the initial group. Evan is intent on “cleaning” up the streets of his town. Bob, Franklin, and Jamarcus, on the other hand, are interested in hanging out in Bob’s “man cave” and drinking beer.
It turns out that the Costco is hiding a secret, as is each character in the story. Evan can’t talk to his wife and starts these clubs as a way to avoid her and their issues. Bob hides the fact that he has a very dysfunctional relationship with his daughter. Franklin has a serious lack in social skills and looks to Bob and Evan as sort of father figures. This line of thinking plays out when Franklin is caught in the middle of an argument between Bob and Evan. The Costco’s secret is that it is ground zero for an incoming alien invasion.
The alien storyline plays itself out while The Watch is ridiculed by the cops and the citizens of the town. One incident has a group of teenagers call in a prank to The Watch, only to ambush them at the local high school football stadium with eggs. There is also a scene where they find a metal orb in a gentleman’s yard, and are cussed out and threatened by the gentleman who is played by R. Lee Ermey. The neighborhood watch is looked at as a joke, and the “funny” thing is they are Earth’s only hope.
If there is one redeeming quality of “The Watch,” it is that Evan is encouraged to communicate with his wife, which he does, and it leads to a stronger relationship between them. Other than that, there is not much going on here. This flick is vulgar. Usually in these reviews there is a profanity count. I could not keep track of the number of profanities in this movie and still focus on the very thin plot. I don’t think this movie goes two minutes without someone uttering the f-word or a variation of it. It was almost like they had a checklist of profanities and tried to use every one as many times as they could.
There are also two sexual scenes—one where Evan and The Watch come home and Evan’s wife is in lingerie in their front dining room. The other is while investigating Evan’s “creepy” neighbor on the suspicion that he is an alien, they learn that he hosts orgy’s in his basement. The scene is no more than five minutes but they manage to show enough.
There is not much substance in this movie, at all. I was hoping for at least some redeeming comedic scenes between Stiller and Vaughn, but was very disappointed. I even thought the idea of a Costco as ground zero for an alien invasion was quirky, but soon did not care, once the movie started going. The movie felt like a studio executive rejected a “Ghostbusters” reboot and the writers decided to make the ghosts aliens and the ghostbusters neighborhood watch. The movie felt lazy and very uninspired. Even the aliens were lazy. Scenes with them were ripped off from movies like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Predator,” and “Alien.” Also, the idea of the aliens harkened back to “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or “V” (the TV series and earlier 80’s miniseries).
I really can’t recommend this movie to anyone for any reason. It is just not a good movie, and it is highly offensive. I would try to come up with some quippy line here using the title of the movie, but, honestly, if you miss this movie, you won’t miss much.
Violence: Heavy to Extreme / Profanity: Extreme—“G-damn” (5), OMG (4), “Jesus” (3), “f” words (50+), and numerous other vulgar sexual words and phrases / Sex/Nudity: Heavy to Extreme
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
“…‘Watch’ out for this comedy clunker… it stinks. …it is a disease-carrying mosquito of film comedy.”
—James Verniere, The Boston Herald
“…raunchy …has plenty of time for penis jokes… at least half of the gags in ‘The Watch’ involve the region below the belt and above the knee. …”
—Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Daily News
“…A lowbrow, lame-brained mash-up of buddies-on-patrol comedy and sci-fi actioner, held together (barely) by an endless string of penis jokes, this exercise in high-concept vulgarity boasts a solid cast with a sharp sense of improv, the effect of which is to make the various domestic subplots and product placements feel like even more of a waste of space.”
—Justin Chang, Variety
“…With its endless phallic jokes—references to Magnum condoms, green alien blood with the texture of semen, panic about infertility (Evan is afraid to tell his wife that he is “shooting blanks”) and well-endowed invaders with brains in their genitals—‘The Watch’ is the latest in a wave of comedies drenched in male sexual anxiety. …”
—Stephen Holden, The New York Times
“…a manic, patched-together… mess of a comedy… The Watch emphasizes over and over again in happy-dirty guy talk that borders on obsession, these neighborhood watchmen are primarily united by their R-rated equipment. Their penises. And by the wondrous stuff those genitals are capable of, alone or in the company of others. If this amateur justice league spent as much time analyzing clues as they did analyzing their junk, in every slang variation available in the Urban Dictionary, the murder mystery in The Watch could have been solved on the first night of surveillance.”
—Lisa Schwarzbaumm, Entertainment Weekly
“…‘The Watch’ is aggressively potty-mouthed… It’s so determined to be crude, vulgar and offensive that after a while I grew weary. Abbott and Costello used to knock out funnier movies on this exact intellectual plane without using a single F, S, C, P or a-word.”
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times