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Actor chemistry saves 'The Watch' from being boring waste

By Jordan Wright
On July 30, 2012

With the success of "The Hangover," it would appear that subsequent years following its 2009 release have seen Hollywood revamp the summer season, typically about big budget spectacle, sci-fi, superheroes, and action films, to include numerous raunchy comedies. Only time will tell if the trend will stick around but if there's to be any future in the raunchy comedy during the summer whatsoever, filmmakers may want to be careful not to allow the genre to dip any further below "The Watch," a poor film in every respect saved only by the chemistry of its leads and a few interesting concepts that separate it from the pack.

The premise is interesting enough; Ben Stiller plays active community participant, Evan Trautwig, who regularly creates clubs and activity groups for his neighborhood that distract him from his wife -played by Rosemarie DeWitt- and home life. After a friend of his is murdered and mutilated, Evan starts a neighborhood watch with the help of his fellow neighbors, high school dropout and wannabe cop Franklin, arrogant and abrasive construction worker Bob, and new community member Jamarcus -played by Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughn, and Richard Ayoade respectively- in order to get to the bottom of the mystery of his death. The culmination of their investigations, however, soon reveals that the culprit behind the murder traces back to an alien invasion threatening the entire planet, starting with the neighborhood.

The setup placing the cast of "The Watch" together essentially puts their loose cannon and fun loving nature at odds with Evan's focused and no nonsense attitude in such a way that should be obnoxiously cliché but actually comes off as somewhat charming. I never dreamed that I would see a film in which Ben Stiller was the best thing that I would take from the experience but he somehow manage to muster up some of the nice guy charm that made his career in the first place without managing to be a doormat.

Jonah Hill seems to have finally found his stride as an actor, playing slightly against type as a slightly imposing and intelligent yet comedic foil to his fellow cast members. Even newcomer, Ayoade shows promise in an offbeat fashion reminiscent of comedic actors such as Donald Glover. As grating as Vaughn's adlibbing could get, the chemistry of the cast playing off of one another consistently distracted from the film's most crippling flaw; namely that despite the solid delivery of most of the material, the actual writing of the film just isn't very funny.

The cast's charm kept me consistently chuckling throughout the entire movie, as well some surprisingly effective cameos that gave me a hard laugh or two. Unfortunately, there's no looking over how flat the actual material is, which is a shame because the idea of giving the raunchy comedy a sci-fi twist was an undeniably fun idea. However the script lacks an ounce of clever writing needed to elevate the film into must see status.

"The Watch" is a video store comedy that I would enthusiastically suggest to anyone seeking to rent something to unwind one evening and in viewing it as a smaller hidden gem, you just may enjoy it more. Unfortunately with bigger and better films available for viewing in the theater, one of them being another rated R comedy featuring a supernatural element in the form of "Ted," I find it rather hard to suggest watching the film at even a matinee price.


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