In recent years, The Frat Pack has sort of run out of steam. The raw energy and true comic originality of members such as Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn has basically been on the decline since about 2005. Films like Anchorman and Wedding Crashershighlighted these two actors’ comedic talents and it was a golden age for The Frat Pack. Unfortunately, Stiller and Vaughn have not been able to recreate the greatness that existed in recent times. Their latest team up is in the violent and profane The Watch, a film which combines male bonding (bromance) and the threat of an impending alien invasion.
The Watch is about a small town and a mild-mannered member of the community and manager of the local Costco, Evan (Ben Stiller). Evan takes it upon himself to form a neighborhood watch when his friend and coworker is brutally murdered. Three random characters then respond to Evan’s announcement. They are party animal Bob (Vince Vaughn), slightly mentally unstable Franklin (Jonah Hill) and English horndog Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). Their investigation leads to an array of raunchy, violent and ridiculous situations including a plot involving an alien invasion.
The Watch is a curious film. Some of the cast and crew hail from the brilliant 2007 comedySuperbad, a film which oozed originality and delighted audiences with fresh raunchy humor.The Watch is not like that. It relies primarily on its strong star power and hopes that Stiller, Vaughn and Hill will manage to squeeze out of laughs from its stale script. It’s a real shame that The Watch didn’t have a better script. Sure, there are some cute comedic moments but it really just seems like the actors are doing their absolute best to turn a weak script into a strong one and they try very hard.
Improvisation looks to be the film’s saving grace, that and the slick sci-fi effects. Stiller and Vaughn are comedic veterans and their work in Dodgeball and Anchorman will remain milestones of their careers. The scripts in those two films tower over The Watch and that’s really unfortunate. The gag reel in the bonus features contains some really good comedic acting, and you can’t help but feel the filmmakers should have left some of that stuff in the actual film. Maybe, there would have been more laughs.
Since The Watch is about aliens, there is a plot that is just so weird and awkward that it is really peculiar. In the film, the main characters find a metallic orb which when activated, shoots a high-powered laser beam, obliterating anything in its path. The prop and visual effects used here are top notch and the same can be said for the actual alien creature. It’s kind of scary and there are scenes taken out of a horror movie with serious suspense and fake blood to enhance the film’s gross factor.
As said before, the cast is one of the film’s only redeeming qualities. The cast is great and this includes newcomer Richard Ayoade. He is British and pretty damn funny. He is the rookie of the film but he brings a unique and downright amusing presence. Coming from British television shows such as Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and The IT Crowd, the man just has a very likable way about him. The Watch may be the first thing you see him in but it’s very likely that he’ll be appearing in more (hopefully better) films.
The combination of a high-profile cast, a lukewarm script and a super silly plot are what comprise The Watch. It is a mediocre film that will find a home wedged between other mediocre films on late night cable TV. If you are bored or a fan of any of the cast members, then by all means, give it a shot. Otherwise, there is no purpose in watching The Watch.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for The Watch are actually slightly better than the film itself. There are deleted scenes, a gag reel, Jonah Hill’s alternate takes, Watchmakers, Alien Invasions & Youand lastly, Casting the Alien.