Today: May 21, 2024

Watch, The

Saturday Night Live writer and director Akiva Schaffer

Saturday Night Live
writer and director Akiva Schaffer mashes together the three most defined faces
of major US comedy with a dash of British charm in a largely disappointing take
on an alien invasion of suburban America.
Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughan and Jonah Hill walk in the well-worn
shoes of the Average Joe; hard working, riddled with flaws but likeable
nonetheless. Stiller takes his turn as token nice guy Ethan, a manager at
Costco who throws himself into various community projects to avoid the fact
that he can’t give his wife a baby (a subject that could bring some depth to
the character if it wasn’t addressed with phrases like “dead jizz.”)

Vaughan is the overprotective father too busy beating his
chest to listen to his hapless daughter and Hill isn’t even playing a shunned
cop for the first time this year, bringing back the quickfire cussing and obedient
nature that we saw in March’s 21 Jump
. The only perk to this otherwise bland ensemble is Richard Ayoade’s Jarmacus. Proudly
sporting the lustful frizzy curls and thick glasses that made him so lovable in
the IT Crowd, Ayoade’s nasal quaintness provides some of the bigger, possibly
only, laughs and settles him comfortably into Hollywood’s latest wave of

After an unlikable member of staff at Costco is brutally
murdered by an unknown being, Ethan takes it upon himself to assemble his crew
of undesirable buddies and track down the suspect. After a series of similar
bloody events it becomes evident the boys are faced with more than bargained
for and have to suit up to protect the future of their white picket fenced
town. Cue slo-mo strutting down
quiet streets accompanied by a hip-hop beat. The other worldly threat to
mankind poses little distraction from the fact that this is just another buddy
movie. But, like this year’s The Sitter, there aren’t enough dick
jokes and NWA tracks in the world to disguise The Watch’s complete lack of
substance; characters are shallow and at times boring, the narrative plods
along predictably and the humour has been flogged to death.

Supporting roles are laid shamefully to waste; Rosemarie DeWitt is barely present as Ethan’s wife Abby and Billy Crudup is reduced to Ethan’s camp
neighbour and suspect alien. Encounters with the beings are neither exciting
nor scary. As Joe Cornish’s Sarf
Lahndahn housing estate-based invasion proved last year in Attack the Block, a tense and dramatic movie can exist without
losing the likability of the characters or the “mate” factor, and the budget
difference between the two is sizable.

There’s no denying that fans of
the Frat Pack will flock to see The Watch come opening weekend and an agreeable
time may be had but, with strong offerings from Apatow and similar competition
over the last year, there’s going to need to be more than an alien invasion to
keep people laughing.

Beth Webb - Events Editor

I aim to bring you a round up of the best film events in the UK, no matter where you are or what your preference. For live coverage of events across London, follow @FilmJuice

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