'The Watch' Review: Well-Tooled Laugh Machine Still Needs Software Upgrade

"The Watch" is a state-of-the-craft Hollywood comedy product, assembled by pros (Seth Rogen is one of its three writers, director Akiva Schaffer is an "SNL" veteran) and stocked with certified funnymen (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill).

The plot is high in concept (aliens invade sleepy Midwestern town) and the gags, largely groin-centric, are sometimes very funny. The movie seems intent on being standard summer box-office bait. We’ll see about that.

Stiller plays Evan, a Costco manager in sunny Glenview, Ohio. When his overnight security guard is murdered under mysterious, gooey circumstances, the earnest Evan decides to track down the perpetrator by forming a Neighborhood Watch (as the movie was originally called, before last February’s Trayvon Martin killing; the new title suggests a story about a Rolex repairman.)

Evan is only able to attract three recruits to his team: a jumped-up construction manager named Bob (Vaughn), a prickly marine named Franklin (Hill, a stretch as a soldier), and a chipper Brit named Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade, of "The IT Crowd"). Also sprinkled into the mix are Billy Crudup as a strange neighbor, Will Forte as a snotty cop, and Rosemarie DeWitt as Evan’s wife, Abby. There are a couple of subplots woven in as well, the best-developed involving Bob’s blossoming teen daughter (Erin Moriarty); and there are a few surprises involving secret identities. Mainly, though, we follow Evan and company as they race around town in search of the very "Alien"-like aliens, who turn out to be advance monsters for a full-scale intergalactic takeover.

Read the full review at Reason.com


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