Movie review: The Watch (MA15+)

WHEN it comes to keeping an eye out for trouble in our own neighbourhood, it’s fair to say looking to the skies for aliens isn’t high on our list of community threats.

The Watch is a film that won’t win awards, isn’t scintillatingly made and lacks real depth.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of fun to watch.

Co-written by Seth Rogen and starring Ben Stiller, this film follows do-gooder Evan (Stiller) as he sets up a neighbourhood watch unit following the murder of one of his employees at the local Costco.

Evan employees the socially-eager Bob (Vince Vaughn), failed cop Franklin (Jonah Hill) and the new-to-the-community Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade from The IT Crowd) to help serve and protect the community.

But a series of unusual events and unanswered questions lead the group to discover aliens are nesting in their community.

The twist of putting aliens into a film about four neighbourhood watch guys is a strange one but Rogen and his co-writers have worked hard on providing character back-story and enough depth in the plot that the whole film doesn’t feel like a bunch of random comedy sketches.

The coupling of Stiller and Vaughn has been seen before, most notably in Dodgeball but also Anchorman and Starsky and Hutch.

The pair again play characters polar opposite to each other but it makes for good laughs.

After his foray into the drama genre (where he got an Oscar nomination for Moneyball) Jonah Hill is back to his comedic best as the slightly unstable Franklin. 

The IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade completes the group in his first foray into Hollywood.

Ayoade might go as the forgotten man alongside big personalities Stiller, Vaughn and Hill but he easily holds his own thanks to his Englishness, nerdiness and excellent comic delivery.

 There are also a number of one-liners that make the film laugh-out-loud funny even if they don’t quite rank up there with Derek Zoolander or Ron Burgandy’s one-liners.

What makes this film even more entertaining is that it tries to take itself seriously in such a way that the comedy shines through even more.

In a nervous or thrilling moment a throwaway comment from any of the four leads breaks tension and reminds the audience that they are there to laugh.

The Watch isn’t a stretch for any of the actors involved. It is fun and exactly what we expect from talent like Stiller, Vaughn, Hill and Rogen. It also opens the Hollywood door for talented UK comedian, actor and director Ayoade.

It also reminds us that films are there to be enjoyed, not taken too seriously. Even if aliens do decide to invade our community. 

The Verdict: 3 stars. 

- The Watch (MA15+) is now showing at Bendigo Cinemas. See page 3 of the Bendigo Advertiser for session details. 

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