I’m trying to think of a more dismally unfunny comedy than ‘The Watch’, but I can’t. (Maybe ‘The Dilemma’.) The movie is 98 grueling minutes of dick jokes. Unfunny dick jokes.
‘The Watch’ is the definition of lazy comedy. Let’s get a bunch of funny guys together (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill), throw together an outlandish plot (aliens versus the neighborhood watch), and hope that their comedic improvising (which is around 95% penis-related) makes people laugh.
Right from the start, when Stiller’s voiceover introduces the neighborhood he lives in, the screenplay sounds bored with itself. (“My name is Evan, I work at Costco. I founded the neighborhood running club… blah blah blah.”)
The entire movie centers around an ‘Attack the Block’ scenario where an alien invasion happens in a small town and ordinary citizens have to stop it. An alien kills one of Evan’s Costco employees, so Evan forms the neighborhood watch.
He gets a few recruits. Franklin (Jonah Hill) is the character who has joined just to bust heads and has a secret arsenal stuffed under his mattress. Bob (Vince Vaughn) is a local dad who barely has time for anything other than stalking his daughter’s every move on Facebook. Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) is the character with the token British accent.
Ten minutes into the movie, I wanted to yell at the screen. I wrote in my notes: “Shut up! Shut UP! SHUT UP!” in reference to the incessantly banal rants that Vaughn goes on again and again during the movie. He chews up every scene he’s in with his “Hey, look at me, I’m Vince Vaughn” shtick where he says anything that comes into his head whether it makes sense in the movie or not.
Watching the movie, I kept thinking of the Bizarro Cut of ‘Wanderlust’, which was an entirely different version of the movie using alternate or deleted scenes. It obviously wasn’t created for theatrical distribution, so some of the jokes weren’t timed as well, but it had some funny parts. That’s what watching ‘The Watch’ is like, but worse, because there are no funny parts. This movie is so disjointed and schizophrenic that every joke falls on its ass. Most of the jokes come by way of improvisation, which is all over the place. It’s almost as if someone put a camera on Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn and said, “Okay, be hilarious!” Then, they were let loose to create one of the laziest comedies I’ve ever come across.
The movie feels sloppily put together. It has extraneous subplots – like Billly Crudup playing a creepy next door neighbor, or Evan and his wife not being able to get pregnant – which in no way influence the movie at all. They’re stuck in for… well, I don’t know why they’re stuck in there, because they make no sense whatsoever. The payoff on Crudup’s character is painfully unfunny and, if you’ve seen the previews, is also painfully obvious.
‘The Watch’ is just terrible. It feels like this movie was thrown together without any thought about what would come out the other end. If you like hearing Vince Vaughn drone on about nothing in that particularly grating way he drones, and if you haven’t had enough of Jonah Hill talking ceaselessly about male genitalia, then go ahead and see this movie. Anyone else who actually likes laughing should stay far, far, far away.