Director: Akiva Schaffer
Cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jonah Hill, Nicholas Braun, Doug Jones, Billy Crudup, Richard Ayoade, Will Forte, Erin Moriarty, Johnny Pemberton
RunTime: 1 hr 42 mins
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language and Sexual Scenes)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/neighborhoodwatch/
Opening Day: 23 August 2012
Synopsis: Four everyday suburban guys come together to form a neighborhood watch group, but only as an excuse to escape their humdrum lives one night a week. But when they accidentally discover that their town has become overrun with aliens posing as ordinary suburbanites, they have no choice but to save their neighborhood -- and the world -- from total extermination.
At some point during the brainstorming process of The Watch, someone realised that seeing a bunch of helpless, terrified people shuddering at the thought of an impending alien invasion just won’t cut it anymore and threw down the idea of making a hilarious end of the world movie. There’s rarely a better epitome of this concept than The Watch. The unlikely blend of an inevitable extraterrestrial conquest and humour doesn’t always work, but when it works, it does so in the most wonderful ways. The Watch is loud, boisterous fun and that’s all that really matters.
Ben Stiller plays Evan, the quintessential nice guy who organises various community activities for his neighborhood. When the night security guard at the local hyperstore is murdered, he forms what he calls the Neighborhood Watch, a resident-run surveillance committee that looks out for suspicious activity in the estate. He is joined by the obliviously talkative Bob (Vince Vaughn), the low self-esteemed Franklin (Jonah Hill) and the recently divorced Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). While investigating the death of the security guard, the group inadvertently uncovers an alien artifact and a plan for an alien invasion. With everyone yet to believe them, the fate of the world rests in their hands.
This is easily one of those movies where the humour works because careful effort was put into crafting the characters. The cold seriousness of self-confessed group leader Evan, the vim and vigour of the unworried Bob, the awkwardness of the fumbling Franklin and the eerily consistent mannerisms of the prim and proper Jamarcus are so comically mismatched that you know the movie can – and will burst into a boom of hilarity at any moment. These personalities come together in about the same way a paper and rock are forced together with flimsy duct tape: there’s the initial friction but after buried differences, countless jokes and hastily exchanged vows of bromance, they just sort of hold together for a common noble purpose. It’s a kind of resulting chemistry that is genuinely fun to watch, easy to appreciate and hard not to respect.
Not surprisingly, The Watch is more fun and easier to appreciate if you are willing to tolerate its near obsessive focus on sexual and scatological humour. Director Akiva Schaffer shoots the timeless brand of comedy off in marginally new directions, resulting in some of the funniest scenes in the later parts of the movie but his reckless use of the humour also means that a few earlier portions of the film can be problematic. An early vignette of Bob throwing masturbation jokes at Evan for his erectile dysfunction while drinking beer and discussing family issues never really ties into the alien invasion story and appears to exist solely as a cheap, disposable gag that breaks the momentum of the movie more than it adds humour.
Even without this humour, The Watch is a perfectly competent piece of action flick that puts more than a few alien movies before it to shame. Any impression that a comedy might throw in a half-hearted alien element for half-baked laughs is immediately extinguished midway through the movie. The aliens here don’t have oversized heads or big useless eyes, only an appetite for human skin, heart and intestines. And our ragtag alien fighting force goes in guns blazing, complete with slow-mo effects and a dead serious attitude towards exterminating aliens. The Watch is about as close as you can get to an Alien movie in a comedy – and to me, that’s a really good bonus.
(The unlikely blend of alien invasion and humour works like a charm)
Review by Loh Yong Jian