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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