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The Watch had some really exciting marketing. The initial short trailer featuring the four leads in their neighborhood watch attire was the right level of intriguing, and the later marketing, which highlighted Jonah Hill’s abuse to his mother and Richard Ayoade’s sexual desires, certainly left a mark. There are some great moments in The Watch, but there are also more than a fair share of slow moments.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with The Watch as a movie, but the sum of its parts don’t work compared to some of its individual moments. Director Akiva Schaffer (mostly) knows a funny moment when he sees one, both Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn are playing characters that are a little outside-the-box for them, and the alien premise is not too overdone in the comedic world. Yet, the flick still comes across as an alien action-comedy that never finds the right momentum, style, or story.
The Watch focuses on an overarching premise that never really seems urgent. Four oddballs, Ben Stiller’s Evan, Vince Vaughn’s Bob, Jonah Hill’s Franklin, and Richard Ayoade’s Jamarcus create a neighborhood watch after a local security guard is murdered in an Ohio town. Soon, insane weapons, green goo, and some octopus-look-alike motherfuckers enter the plotline, and the neighborhood watch is the only thing standing between the aliens and Earth’s total annihilation.
The Watch works best when it is simply trying to be funny, but its story ensures there must be plenty of action-based scenes to propel the plot forward. For the sake of an alien script, cows and buildings just need to explode, and while a few of these action-oriented scenes are played for humor, most of the them read as exactly what they are: a few men-children blowing things up. Writers Jared Stern, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg were responsible for the script. Two of these three writers wrote The Green Hornet, and that movie has some of the same action versus comedy problems. Action needs to be implemented into the comedy, or vice versa, but I never want to see two different films competing for screen time.
Schaffer had a little bit of a challenge with The Watch’s script. There’s a lot of stop-and-go with the plots in the story, and it would have taken an experienced director to make the tale come off as smooth and seamless. Unfortunately, the Hot Rod director is not exactly an expert in the field, and not only are some of the cut-to choices in the film clunky, but the overall vision doesn’t work, either.
Regardless, the movie is almost saved by the likeable neighborhood watch crew. Vince Vaughn taking on a more manic personality is something new, Jonah Hill playing a bit of a psychopath hits hard, Ben Stiller’s straight man, while predictable, works with the rest of the cast, and Richard Ayoade—despite often chiming in after Vaughn—is subtly funny. Watching the guys hang out and throw zingers is the best part of the film, but the big moments—those people only mildly into comedy will care about—were all spoiled in the initial advertising.
Action comedies can work. Hill proved this only a few months ago with 21 Jump Street. However, this one needed more time and care, and there were too many elements missing to let the comedy speak for itself. My point is, a director can throw four comedians into a ring and have them spitball amply, but just because he or she can make that happen, it doesn’t always mean it should happen--especially not for $68 million dollars.
The Watch looks clear and crisp on Blu-ray, but since the audience’s enjoyment of the movie shouldn’t really change between the Blu-ray and DVD picture (I checked--the Blu-ray combo pack also comes with a DVD copy), choosing the Blu-ray isn’t a must.
The disc features deleted scenes, first. There are actually plenty of them (we’re talking an estimate of like twenty minutes), but they are super abruptly cut and sometimes in mid-sentence the clip will cut out. It’s kind of off-putting, but these are pretty funny, so I’ll give them a pass. A gag reel follows, and then more comedic moments via a segment devoted to Jonah Hill’s outtakes.
“Watchmakers” starts out like a ‘found footage’ documentary and then turns into a “Making of” segment featuring the main actors, Schaffer, producer Shawn Levy, and the actors who play the aliens and deal with the process of “becoming” a creature from another planet in the film. It’s pretty informative, although Levy comes off as stupidly overexcited about the project and it makes me want to smack him, even though it’s totally his job in this instance. A few shorter featurettes round out the extras, including “Alien Invasions & You,” and “Casting the Alien.”
This seems to be the case of overloading the disc for the sake of overloading the disc. I’m sure there was plenty of extra footage, and I don’t really begrudge anyone for using it, but this disc isn’t particularly spectacular. The real gems on the disc are the initially discussed deleted scenes, however, and if you liked the movie, you should check them out.
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