The Watch Akiva Schaffer

The Watch Akiva Schaffer
I hope there's a very different version of the script for The Watch (shortened from it's original title of Neighbourhood Watch, because of an a-hole with a gun) out there to explain how this aimless and clichéd buddy comedy attracted so many capable comedians, but I doubt it.

More likely, there was a loose concept, a pool of basic character ideas, enough zeros in the budget, the promise of a great deal of improvisation and the notion that it'd all come together in editing. It didn't. This is coming from someone who found director (and Lonely Island member) Akiva Schaffer's Hot Rod nearly hilarious.

None of that film's zany irreverence for the rules of filmmaking or over-the-top parody make their way into this limp paycheque piece, which is a shame, because that's exactly what it needs. Instead, we have a tonally uncertain collection of scenes and situations haphazardly strung together, punctuated by occasionally funny non-sequiturs (mostly courtesy of Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade of The IT Crowd), raw sexual banter and a wonderfully leering performance by someone you wouldn't expect to see in a film like this.

Ben Stiller is the funniness vacuum at the heart of this wasted premise. The straight man is a noble role, but his Evan (a zealous, prideful community booster who forms clubs because he's too anal retentive to make friends) is just a drag. Perhaps the character would've worked better if as much time was spent on Evan's conception issues with his wife (an underutilized Rosemarie DeWitt) as was on Jonah Hill's character's willingness to be sodomized by a shotgun-toting geriatric in the name of an investigation.

Nothing feels organic or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, ridiculous enough about the way these four incongruent suburbanites come together, with all but Evan treating the group as a reprieve from the disappointments of domestic routines, only to stumble upon an alien invasion plot.

The trouble is, The Watch can't figure out what sort of comedy/action/drama hybrid it wants to be and resultantly fails on all fronts. Who will watch these watchmen? Nobody, most likely. (Fox)