The Watch is a complete mess from beginning to end with its downfall stemming from a very simple fact: The filmmakers and cast think that this is extremely funny material when in fact it couldn’t be further from it. Most of us at one time or another have sat through movies like this, where the cast looks like they’re having fun on the screen, but the audience couldn’t be more uncomfortable as they squirm in their seats. This is the exact experience one will face should they dare to give The Watch a try.
It tells the story of a Costco manager, Evan (Ben Stiller), whose friend, the store’s security guard, is mysteriously murdered at the store one night. With a very small amount of police around to do anything about it, Evan decides to form a neighborhood watch to investigate. Upon calling a meeting to set it up, only three people show up: Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill), and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). Even though these three are more so the type of guys that would rather sit around and drink beer, they do help uncover a plot that is occurring in their small town. It just so happens that their town is ground zero for an alien invasion, which these four must endeavor to prevent any way they can.
A comedy is obviously going to be judged mainly on the kind of humor used and just how funny it ends up being, with one usually correlating directly to the other, so let’s take a closer look at it in regards to the film. The Watch uses lowbrow humor throughout almost the entire film, which, if you’ve seen the work of Adam Sandler, you know never works. There are a number of unfunny sexual jokes thrown around including an awkward scene that has the group comparing the aliens’ blood to semen and an orgy scene that…. well, let’s not get into that.
The bad jokes don’t end there however, you also get a dose of toilet humor with a scene that has Bob needing to use bathroom while on a stakeout. Needless to say, they try to force some humor out of the situation, but all the scene has you doing is wondering why anyone involved in this production found this funny in the slightest.
Aside from the humor, the film also had a major problem in staying focused on its story. The plot involves these guys trying to identify who killed the security guard, but if you were to watch the film, you would think that that was at the bottom of their list of priorities. For some reason, the writers kept losing track of the plot to focus on completely superfluous subplots, showing that they must have an attention span of a six-year-old child.
For example, there is a subplot that involves Evan and his wife trying to have a baby that is explored a few times throughout the film. It has nothing to do with anything else, and yet, the film keeps coming back to it as though it is important in some way. Another subplot has Bob keeping a careful watch on his daughter as she dates a young boy. Again, it serves no purpose in regards to the story and only serves to waste time while the audience sits and waits for the film to get back to the main plot.
It seems pretty clear that these writers (Jared Stern, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg) knew they didn’t have enough material to make a full-length feature film, so they just thought they’d throw in some random subplots to stretch it out a little, but all they do is end up hurting the film even more. Perhaps they were also thinking that they’d be able to mine more humor out of these situations, but again, with their level of humor set so low, they don’t succeed.
The film comes from director Akiva Schaffer, who has made only one other feature film. He’s mainly known for working on Saturday Night Live for the past few years as a writer. Given SNL’s sharp drop in quality over the last several years, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that he would think that this is good material.
All three writers have bad projects in their past, though Rogen & Goldberg have also had some well-received ones as well. It just so happens that nothing came together for them on this project, though they should have noticed (or should have been told) that their script was incredibly lacking in both humor and focus.
Perhaps they thought that the cast would be enough to cover for them. Stiller has certainly done some good work in the past (There’s Something About Mary, Tower Heist), as has Jonah Hill (Moneyball, 21 Jump Street). You’d be a bit more pressed to find good work from Vince Vaughn though. Unfortunately, he’s given too much license to run his mouth throughout the film, which certainly doesn’t help it, but with all the other problems it has, you might not even notice one more.
Now let’s take a look at the Blu-Ray disc itself. As far as the 1080p, 2.35:1 widescreen video and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio go, they’re both pretty good quality. Everything can be seen and heard very clearly, so at the very least, this terrible film is given a decent transfer for home viewing purposes.
As for special features, it comes with the following:
- Unrated Deleted Scenes
- Outrageous Gag Reel
- Jonah Alternate Takes
- Alien Invasions & You
- Casting the Alien
The deleted scenes run about 24 minutes and serve only to remind you that you should be thankful, because the film could have run several minutes longer. The “Outrageous Gag Reel” is not particularly outrageous, nor is it particularly funny. The “Jonah Alternate Takes” only exist because they allowed Jonah Hill to improvise a lot of additional material, and for some reason they thought these extra takes were funny, leading them to include them on the disc.
“Watchmakers” is the closest thing we get to a “making of” featurette. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface as to how the film got made. It merely has some of the cast and crew telling you about the film in quick interview snippets. The final two featurettes are completely pointless. “Alien Invasions & You” simply has the cast and crew telling you how they think they would fare in an alien invasion, while “Casting the Alien” is an “interview” with an alien from the film. The latter featurette once again has you asking yourself “why do they think this is funny?” and “why would they choose to embarrass themselves this badly?”
I wish there was something else nice to say about this Blu-Ray release other than it looks and sounds good, but that’s really the only highlight to be found with it. The film is an unfocused, unfunny mess that will have you checking your watch constantly, while the special features are pretty much a waste of time. These writers need to learn that this kind of comedy doesn’t work, and if they’re not going to concentrate on their story, then why bother telling it at all? If there’s one good thing to come out of this film, hopefully it will be that it will act as a teaching tool to other writers on how not to construct a comedy.
This review is based on a copy of the Blu-Ray that we received for reviewing purposes.