The Watch review

On paper, The Watch looks terrific. It's got three decent Hollywood stars in Stiller, Vaughan and Hill, along with much-loved Brit Ayoeda (who is clearly destined for big things Stateside). It's got an interesting Neighbourhood Watch set-up. So why, then, is The Watch just so, so mediocre?

The problem seems to be that the makers are too scared to take a risk and do somethng interesting with the premise. It could have been a clever, slightly snarky on modern suburban life – much like The Burbs did back in the 80s, and what Suburgatory is currently doing on TV. But no, the filmmakers decided to go the easy route and make a very conventional, somwehat bland Hollywood comedy that appeals to the lowest common denominator (although it does have some funny moments). Oh, and did I mention the sci-fi subplot?

The blokes form a Neighbourhood Watch team, and find themselves suddenly having to deal with a sneaky alien invasion (they disguise themselves as humans). Stiller's character, Evan, works for a US retailer – which I won't name here, becuase the company gets namechecked about 1,378 times during the film – and is somewhat of a control fereak. He has to form this ragtag bunch – Bob (Vaughn), Franklin (Hill) and Jamarcus (Ayoade) – into a squad that can save the planet from a coming invasion. You'd think there was potential for major laughs there, but sadly they are few and far between, and most of them are of the grossout variety – apart from a very funny scene involving the shooting of an alien. A lot.

It's a terrific cast, but they're all pretty much wasted here. The characterts are all underwritten and nobody really shines, apart from Ayoade – he's easily the best thing in it. The Watch didn't really do that well in the US, and I can't see it succeeding in other territories either. A wasted opportunity.

The Watch at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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