The Watch [Blu-Ray] Akiva Schaffer

The Watch [Blu-Ray]Akiva Schaffer
In theory, assembling a crew of performers adept in the low-brow art of filthy improvisation and teaming them with a director who's shown a knack for the absurd should at least produce a passable bawdy comedy for those times when killing brain cells with alcohol starts to feel like old hat. Even the premise — a bunch of lonely suburban men form a neighbourhood watch and stumble upon an alien invasion in progress — is rife with potential. But despite the simplicity of the formula and valiant efforts by Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade, The Watch fails to spark at almost every turn. This is in large part due to the film's lazy coupling of a surface celebration of assimilative patriotism with xenophobic subtext that features Costco as ground zero for the aforementioned extraterrestrial incursion. An equal drag on the sporadic momentum generated by dirty non-sequiturs and oddly phrased observations is an underdeveloped subplot regarding watch leader Evan's (Ben Stiller) anxiety about revealing his infertility to his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt). Akiva Schaffer fumbles his attempts to blend sexually preoccupied humour with thriller and action tactics. There was an unbridled enthusiasm to his genre jumping in prior feature Hot Rod, but here the tonal shifts feel disjointed. The special features make it pretty clear that the characters weren't worked out much in advance, with a plethora of alternate line-readings giving the director the raw material to figure out personalities in editing. An entire reel of "Jonah Hill Alternate Takes" contains more laughs than the feature and a gag reel further demonstrates Hill's relentless ability to conjure imaginative crudities, but that's as good as it gets. The deleted scenes do little but call further attention to the shortcomings of a men-will-be-boys story that Modern Family wouldn't even hang an entire episode on, and, sloppily framed as a faux-documentary, the behind-the-scenes features feel forced and trite. Who should watch these watchmen? No one. (Fox)