The Watch Blu-Ray Review (Kirk Haviland)

The Watch Blu-Ray

Starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Will Forte and Billy Crudup

Written by Jared Stern, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

Directed by Akiva Schaffer

Hitting Blu-Ray and DVD this week from Fox Home Entertainment is the action comedy that disappointed at the box office this summer, The Watch. Hurt due to a truncated advertising campaign and name change to avoid all possible ties with the real life Trayvon Martin incident, The Watch finally gets its chance to be seen on home video. But can the combined comedic chops of Stiller, Vaughn, Hill, Ayoade (director of last year’s brilliant Submarine) and Forte along with director, and one-third of the comedy troop of The Lonely Island, Akiva Schaffer, deliver the comedy of the year?

Evan (Stiller) seems to have it all together. He has a lovely wife (Rosemarie DeWitt), a great house and a steady job as a manager of the local Costco in a sleepy suburb of Glenview, Ohio. One morning Evan arrives for work to find his night security guard has been murdered and the police have him on the list of suspects. Evan decides he must start the Neighbourhood Watch to find the real killer and patrol the streets. Evan is taken up on the offer by Bob (Vaughn), a father of a teenage daughter who desperately craves male bonding time; Franklin (Hill), a high school dropout and reject from the police force who wants to crack some skulls; and the awkward Jamarcus (Ayoade), who simply is looking for a way to fit in. The Watch are ridiculed and not taken seriously by the community at large, especially by the police and Sgt. Bressman (Forte). Eventually they discover that the killer may be extra-terrestrial in origin and they end up in a bigger fight than they had first thought, which may or may not include Evan’s strange new neighbour, Paul (Crudup).

The Watch does not get much more sophisticated with a second viewing and remains a very silly movie. Obviously a believer in free reign and tons of ad-libbing, Shaffer lets his stars run loose and it shows. Shaffer goes as far as to mention in the special features that he only records two ‘script’ takes but gives the cast as many alternate takes as they like to goof on the lines. Stiller and Vaughn deliver exactly what you have seen them do so many times before with Stiller bringing his goofy everyman with a penchant for landing in awkward situations, while Vaughn’s motor-mouth rapid-fire style is in full effect. Jonah Hill gets a little edgier than normal here, but also manages to hit all those familiar “too close” moments that he’s famous for. Hader brings to life another awkward character that doesn’t completely work all the time, his Bressman is one of the weaker parts of the film and in some situations feels shoehorned into parts of the script. The real star here is and remains to be Ayoade. Ayoade manages to steal every scene he is in and during the repeated viewings it’s Ayoade who can be seen adding layers to his performance as hints can be seen throughout the film as to what happens to his character later on.

Going for mainly practical effects work on the aliens in the film, Schaffer does an effective job in the one on one sequences with the man in the suit. Obviously not too schooled in action sequences, the finale involves a lot of CG work which does not quite work as effectively. The most fun of the action set pieces involves a montage with a ball the Watch find and the fun the boys have with it. The film does look good overall and a lot of its ancillary budget after paying off the cast salaries and the suits for the aliens may have gone straight to the huge booming finale.

The disc comes packed with extras including half an hour of deleted/alternate scenes that sadly do not have as much Ayoade as I was hoping for. A gag reel of goofs and flubs, not uncommon for comedies like this, along with some other standard behind the scenes fetaurettes: ‘Watchmakers’ and ‘Alien Invasions and You’. The two additional featurettes that stand out are a reel of Jonah Hill’s riffing and alternate takes as his character was apparently not as weird in the script and comes out on screen not nearly as far out as Jonah went with it during filming. And the ‘Casting the Alien’ segment which is an in-character interview with the film’s alien that is well written and very ‘Spinal Tap’ in feel.

Not the film everyone was hoping for, The Watch hits video more under the radar than would be expected because of its pedigree. Far from a terrible film, The Watch does play better at home than it did in theaters, but in the end its just there. A decent rental option that will not offend, The Watch may be a purchase opportunity at the right price. In the end though, The Watch remains a  mild recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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Goon Review (Kirk Haviland)

Goon (2012)

Starring – Seann William Scott, Jay Baruchel, Liev Schrieber and Alison Pill.

Written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg

Directed by Micheal Dowse

Editor’s note: Just a quick bit of information. Since the publication of this review, we have heard from Alliance and they confirmed that there was in fact no Q&A after the screening. Sorry for any confusion.

Hello Folks,

Sports movies are a tricky thing, but when someone gets it right they can become some of our most cherished classics. Movies like Slapshot, Rudy, Raging Bull, Major League, Field of Dreams, Hoosiers, and the recent Moneyball have all succeeded in crossing over from mere film to part cultural phenomenon. Phrases like “just a bit outside” and “putting on the foil coach” are immediately recognizable to sports and movie fans alike. Standing in a crowd of strangers and starting a slow chant of “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy” may not help convince people of your sanity, but I can almost guarantee over 50% of the people in that group will know what the chant means. This recognition is also what leads to the downfall of most sports film out there. They are either rehashes of the same premises or they focus too much on trying to do everything about the sport “right on film” that they lack in story and character. The reason the most successful of sports films become a success is because they don’t try to focus on the sport as a whole, rather a strong story within the context of the sport. This is why Goon works. It doesn’t try to explain hockey for what it is and why it is, it just wants to tell the story of a guy who loves to fight and stand up for his teammates.

Doug Glatt (Scott) is a simpleminded bouncer who just simply wants to belong to something. His parents and brother are successful in their careers and even his best friend Pat (Baruchel) has his own call in a T.V. show about hockey, “Hot Ice”. Doug’s life changes when he goes to a local game with Pat.  When a hockey player climbs into the stands after Doug, he knocks him unconscious. Doug is quickly given the moniker “the thug” and recruited by the local coach to play for the team. He is taught the fundamentals in the familiar “training montage” after he beats up over half his own team in one of the funnier moments of the film. It’s not long before he is moving up from the local team to a “national league just one step from the pros”, the films equivalent of the AHL, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He’s there to protect the team’s star, Xavier LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin),  who is skittish about everything on the ice after getting knocked out  and concussed by the league’s veteran tough guy, Ross “the boss” Rhea (Schrieber). During the course of his time in Halifax he also finds love with self professed “slut and bad girlfriend” Eva (Pill). It all leads up to the inevitable showdown for the last playoff spot and the big fight everyone is waiting for.

It may sound too much like your typical sports themes, but writers Baruchel and Goldberg get creative within the conventions of a story like this and resolve the “issues” of the film in creative ways. Scott is clearly the focus of the film and he truly does bring a likeable charm to a role somewhat unlike anything else he has done. You find yourself drawn to cheer and root for Doug throughout the film. Alison Pill steals almost every scene she’s in and is absolutely stunning throughout. She is still one of my favorite parts of Scott Pilgrim (forget Ramona, I’d take Kim P, ……or Knives!) and at this point has me buying into whatever her next project is…blind. Schrieber as the grizzled veteran is an inspired choice and shines, especially during the “Heat” inspired diner scene between Doug and Ross.  Director Micheal Dowse does a solid job rustling all the big personalities into solid performances. We were also told during the film’s introduction that he had the creative ingenuity to configure a dolly rig on skates to get closer to the action.

We were lucky enough to have the Director and three of the main cast, Baruchel, Schrieber and Scott there to present the film. Alas, I was in the wrong theater from a Q&A standpoint as the other theater got that (I could be wrong but it was put forward that the other theater was mainly Industry/Media and the other theater was for contest winners like me, thus the lack of Q&A). This wasn’t too much of an upset as my friend, TO filmmaker Justin McConnell, and I both enjoyed the film regardless. Justin, along with making his own films, curates a short film program in Toronto that I will be discussing in a couple of weeks.

Cast Photo

Overall, Goon is just a good hockey movie, which is all the filmmakers wanted to do. It may not be the funniest or most heartfelt or even the best sports movie we see all year, but it’s earned a spot on my shelf when it hits Blu-Ray. A truly fun night out at the cinema.

Opens Friday Feb 24th in theaters across Canada and on VOD in the US.

Til Next Time

Kirk “Movie Junkie TO” Haviland

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