Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Watch

The Watch; science-fiction comedy, USA, 2012; D: Akiva Schaffer, S: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade

Ohio. In order to find the murderer of a security guard of his store, manager Evan decides to assemble a local neighborhood watch. However, only three people join him: Bob, Franklin and Jamarcus. They design their own jackets and isignia and start patrolling the neighborhood at night. One night, they find a strange orb that can shoot destructive laser beams. Evan and Jamarcus even manage to capture a real alien, but it escapes. They discover that the aliens plan to destroy the human kind - they hear that from Jamarcus, who himself reveals to be an alien in human disguise. However, with Jamarcus' help, they are able to stop the aliens and save the world.

"The Watch" is a very, very uneven patchwork, but thanks to some good parts, it is at least a 'guilty pleasure'. There are several problems that plague the film. For one, the original title, "The Neighborhood Watch", was perfect, but the producers decided to opt for this one after one murder incident in 2012 involving the neighborhood watch - 2012 is gone, but the film is now forever stuck with an abridged title. The sole concept is great, and it takes an unusual twist by turning into a SF alien story in the second half, aiming at the "Ghostbusters" vibe, except that Venkman, Stantz and Spengler had a more sophisticated, elevated humor and would definitely never talk about such vulgar things as "cum" or childish comments about someone's marriage problems caused by infertility, which makes "The Watch" crude.

The storyline strays in several directions, but ultimately it would not matter what direction it would take as long as it would have inspiration and be funny, yet, unfortunately, the majority of the attempts at humor lead nowhere - for instance, in one sequence, the four protagonists are sitting in the car at night, observing a building. Bob has to pee so he uses an empty beer can to urinate inside. One would expect that a brilliant comic payoff would come after this, but for some reason, this empty scene is all there is, and that's it. The bizarre 'plot twist' also clashes with practically everything already seen in the film and is unnecessary. However, at least two jokes somehow made it to the top and are worth seeing. One is when Evan and Franklin bring a teenager to the police department and accuse him of throwing eggs at them, and Even simply has to add a hilarious, killer line: "He threw eggs at us. Eggs. Coward's weapon." The other sequence simply tops everything in the film and is howlingly funny: after they capture a dead alien in their home, the four protagonists spend dozens and dozens of parade photos, involving putting a blond wig on the alien (!), putting a cigar in alien's mouth or Franklin making a sexual innuendo position by standing behind it.


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