CATEGORIES Movie NewsThis Friday unites a few of Hollywood's funniest -- Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill -- with the release of "The Watch."
Together, along with a decidedly less-famous Richard Ayoade, they form a group of laid-back vigilantes who have sworn to protect their neighborhood in the wake of a mysterious crime. The foursome end up stumbling upon an extraterrestrial take-over (naturally) and have to find a way to save their town -- and humanity.
While the plot may seem slap-dash, "The Watch" has been gestating for quite some time. Written by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Jared Stern, the now-infamously named "Neighborhood Watch" (the film ended up changing its name after the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida) began development in 2008, and was initiatively geared toward teens. Two years later, Rogen and Goldberg then re-wrote the project for an older audience and brought on SNL alum Akiva Schaffer to direct.
Fraught with bad-timing, "The Watch" is finally coming to theaters. Unfortunately, it may not be the laugh-tastic treat you were hoping for.
Below, a round up of the good, bad and ugly in this week's Pro-Con.
(MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW)
PRO: Richard Ayoade And the-guy-whose-name-you-can't-pronounce with the upset! Richard Ayoade showed up all the comedy bigwigs with his performance as Jamarcus, the affable British newcomer. While Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill all struggled to find their particular brand of humor in the sci-fi flick, Ayoade swooped in -- with even so much as a "Hi!" -- and saved the scene.
CON: The plot An extraterrestrial take-over? A light-hearted buddy film? A commentary on marriage and fatherhood? "The Watch" has a lot going on and most of it felt extraneous. It's obviously possible for a film to incorporate various elements -- and conflicting emotions -- but here, it just felt confusing and off-putting.
CON: Manly heart-to-hearts Allow me to illustrate this through a moment from another Goldberg-Rogen collaboration: Remember in "Superbad" when Hill and Michael Cera are drifting off into a drunken slumber and they confess their love for one another? That was sweet and hilarious. "The Watch" did not couch its "serious" talks in ridiculous -- or even relatable -- situations and so, the result was somewhat cringe-worthy.
PRO: Jonah Hill As Franklin, the switchblade-happy outsider, Jonah Hill gets to play the more-silent-aggressive type. The character is a new kind of funny-man for Hill and he plays him well.
CON: Jonah Hill That being said, Hill's Franklin is not that funny. His tough-guy antics are sometimes amusing -- who doesn't love a little mom yelling? -- but overall, his character does not bring in as many laughs as you'd expect.
CON: Ben Stiller Ben Stiller plays Evan Trautwig, a polo-tucking overachiever, who founds the Neighborhood Watch. While Stiller is very talented at playing the stick-in-the-mud type, in this film, he's a legitimate a bummer. You know how in Judd Apatow's "40 Year Old Virgin" Steve Carell is a loser in a funny, kind of adorable way? Here, Stiller's Trautwig is a loser in an oppressively lame way.
PRO: Cameos Because seeing other celebrities for a minute is fun!
CON: The gore The film featured some pretty nasty shots: hearts being ripped out of bodies, human innards strewn about (and not in the "ha-ha" way, but in the "ew" way).
PRO: The messing-around scenes The glimmers of humor were at their best when the boys of "The Watch" were just having fun. Blowing up cows -- "That's terrible for the cow, but this thing's awesome!" -- dancing with a passed out alien, this is the stuff of great movies! Or, at least, it's the kind of fantastical hangouts that you'd expect of such a cast.
CON: Too many comics spoil the plot In the end, there was just too much star power for the film to stand on its own two feet. (Perhaps this is why Ayoade felt like a breath of fresh air -- there was less pressure to deliver side-splitters.) The anger you'd expect from Hill, the motor-mouth speeches from Vaughn and the sweet humor of Stiller was all there, but they ended up canceling each other out.