The Watch will be an odd experience for anyone not acquainted with director Akiva Schaffer’s previous effort Hot Rod. To the casual observer, this all-star sci-fi comedy with a fixation on male appendages of all shapes, sizes, and species might seem like bit of a feathered fish; the humour too juvenile for adults, and the classification rating too high for kiddies. But those who reveled in Hot Rod’s symphonic utterances of “cool beans” and regularly cry “babe, wait!” will feel right at home in Lonely Island alum Schaffer’s universe. If neither of those references even registered on your pop culture meter, perhaps this would be the time to back away slowly.
Don’t get it twisted: The Watch is indeed a feathered fish. It’s a freaking underwater ostrich. Whether or not it will appeal to all four quadrants is of little concern to any viewer lucky enough to be located within its niche demographic, however. I, a twenty-something champion of both Hot Rod and the similarly misguided and oddball Land of the Lost, was caught squarely in its tractor beam.
Originally penned by Jared Stern, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have retooled the script, and their merrily smutty fingerprints have been firmly imprinted on the final product. Ben Stiller stars as Evan Trautwig, a proud resident of Glenview, Ohio, and even prouder manager of its flagship Costco store. When his security guard is killed – and skinned – during one late shift, Evan implores his fellow citizens to form a Neighbourhood Watch and catch the culprit, seeing as the incompetent local policeman (the always on-form Will Forte) is incapable of doing so. The only willing applicants are high-energy Bob (a high-energy Vince Vaughn, as expected), mentally unhinged dropout Franklin (Jonah Hill), and English ex-pat Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). All but Evan treat the group as a cover for some unsupervised drinking; that is, until they discover an intergalactic threat living amongst them.
Undoubtedly, there’s a better, less silly movie in The Watch. One in which we get to spend more time with the lovely Rosemarie DeWitt as Evan’s wife Abby. One in which the guys don’t bother even trying to solve any crimes and follow Bob’s original suggestion to treat their vigilante group as an outlet for some good old fashioned masculine bonding. One in which there is just a tad more heart and depth to allow the talented four leads to show off their range. But, you review the film in front of you, and not the film in your mind. There is the expected number of dirty non-sequiturs and filthy flights of fancy for the cast to sink their teeth into, as well as some bizarre physical humour involving the bodies of unconscious aliens. There’s violence, there’s an orgy, there’s Billy Crudup playing a delightfully ambiguous creep, and there’s a hefty amount of Jonah Hill genius. There’s too much Costco. Anyway, I found it funny.
The Watch is now showing in Australian cinemas.