Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade star in this suburban tale about four family men that form a neighbourhood watch in order to get time away from their families, only to discover a plot to destroy the Earth. Now playing nationwide.
Benefitting greatly from the overall turdiness of Ben Stiller's last broad comic outing (Tower Heist), this won me over with its commitment to low-brow humour.
Big budget sci-fi comedies fail more often than they succeed, and this film didn't exactly scream 'quality' in its trailers, so I went in not expecting much. Such an approach may be neccessary to enjoy this film, but an affinity for dick jokes would help too.
Stiller plays something of an officious twerp here, the kind off the role that suits him best (see: Heavyweights; Dodgeball). Vaughn and Hill rely on well-established comedic personas. The IT Crowd and Garth Marenghi's Darkplace star (and Submarine director) Richard Ayoade's onscreen presence is less familiar, but he also does exactly what we've come to expect from him, acting-wise.
Their collective chemistry carries this film through the slow patches, and it's undeniable fun seeing them bounce off each other. The luminous Rosemarie DeWitt is underused as Stiller's wife, but this film is kind of a boys club.
The alarmingly central presence of Stiller's character's place of work ("big box" store Costco) points to mainstream cinema's increasing reliance on product placement. This may put some viewers off, but I suppose we should get used to it.
Akiva Schaffer (part of The Lonely Island trio, who cameo) displayed his affection for the pointless non-sequitur in previous directorial effort, Hot Rod, and that predilection for absurdity is a welcome presence in The Watch.
There may be plenty of studio comedies that are better than this film, but there are more that are worse.