Whoever edited the TV spots for this film really needs to consider a career change. It’s not as if what is left out of the teaser is a spoiler, but when the IMDB synopsis does a better job of getting you interested in the film than the TV spots, something is wrong. However, even good marketing may not have helped this pretty forgettable film.
The story follows Evan, a Costco manager played by Ben Stiller, who decides to form a neighborhood watch after the bizarre and gruesome murder of the store’s security guard in the small town of Glenview, Ohio. The only people who join are a mentally unstable high school dropout played by Jonah Hill, a suburban dad played by Vince Vaughn, and a new neighbor from across the pond played by Richard Ayoade. After only a few weeks on patrol, they find themselves having to defend the Earth from an alien invasion.
The story feels a bit like a Spielberg alien movie if Spielberg had spent time working on Saturday Night Live. There are decent jokes, but much of the humor relies on crude jokes rather than the humor of the situation. It tries to build up a mystery behind the aliens, but falls flat when it attempts the “dramatic” reveals. There’s not a lot of character development, and the few scenes that attempt it come across as an excuse for more raunchy humor.
The acting in this film is not very memorable. Stiller plays the neurotic control freak, Vaughn plays the obnoxious party guy, Hill’s the only actor to attempt something different with his role as the psycho, and Ayoade is the classy but secretly perverted British guy. This is your typical factory-made summer comedy.
While the development is minimal, some characters are better defined than others. Vaughn’s character is the only one that seems realistic compared to the others, and he is really the only one who seems to be trying. His character should have been the main character since he had clear motivations that would have carried the story better.
Another problem with this film is the abundance of product placement. Heavy product placement in films is nothing new, but they may as well have put the logos for TROJAN and Costco alongside the film studio logos since those are the products prominently featured.
Overall, this film is decent, but not very memorable. It has some funny moments, but don’t expect people to begin quoting it or making internet memes anytime soon. It just comes across as one of those “safe and marketable” films that executives love so much. On my personal scale, I give The Watch a 3/5.