The Watch – 2.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

watchThe Watch – 2.5/5 – This is going to be a review for a Ben Stiller movie released last year.  As is the case, I usually have a decent prologue leading into my reviews.  Here, I won’t have one.  There isn’t really anything to explain about this movie, other than it being a tale of two halves.  With a lousy setup that leads to an awesome second half and climax; The Watch is a film of ‘what is good and bad’ about being a comedy.

In the town of Glenview, Ohio, Evan (Ben Stiller) is the manager of the Costco department store.  When the Costco night watchman is mysteriously murdered, he decides to organize The Neighborhood Watch.  This team that is formed consists of his suburban neighbors Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill) and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade).  Soon they discover that the there is more behind the murders, and everything that is normal, may be out of this world.

In the main cast of the neighborhood watch, we have four recognizable actors.  You have Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade.  The latter might not be as big as the other three, but all four or prevalent comedians in Hollywood.  In the role of the neighborhood watch, they don’t do much to make you feel enticed or attached to their characters, and a lot of their ‘development’ is as a group that revolves around them investigating and their comedic banter.  In this, they give you their typical shtick of comedy.  With that archetypal feel, all four do a good job in keeping you involved with what is going on, but sometimes their characters come across as passé and obviously stale.  When the focus stays on their involvement with the ‘watch’ aspect, it helps you stay away from the obvious fact that there characters aren’t as funny as they should be.  In the supporting cast, you have the likes of Rosemarie DeWitt, Will Forte and R. Lee Ermey.  They are alright in their supporting roles, but don’t do anything ‘out of the ordinary’ to make the film great or terrible.  At most, these characters stand out as ‘look who’s in the film’ kind of facet than anything else.

The movie here has a direction that seems to be the noticeable spell of a film that is a ‘tale of two halves’.  In the first half, there is the setup and genre confliction:

Some ‘specific event’ happens

Affect’s main character

Main character trails to a ‘fight for a cause’ cliché

Mystery and comedy ensues

This is the basic thread of the first half.  There isn’t anything around this, nothing to it, it is obviously this.  When Evan finds the dead person in his Costco, he forms the neighborhood watch.  In this, you get a mixture of ‘In your face’ comedy, with reliance of dialogue humor and some mystery elements.  This causes a timing issue with the story development and comedy, garnering a hit and miss at times in this part of the film.  The conflicting ideas of ‘is this a mystery’ or ‘is this a slapstick comedy’ film drags the movie down, and makes you really want to stop watching because of lack of entertainment.  Thankfully, there is the second half of the film.  The movie changes from this downward spiral when they find out the truth behind the murders, which is of ‘alien’ origin.  Once the film employs a different tactic into the story(alien), the film turns into a more darkly humor film.  This actually makes the film turn for the better, as the timing of the comedy is back, and all the moments of the film are either ‘heart wrenching’ or ‘laugh out loud’ funny.  Once the climax hit, even when plot devices are convenient for the film to progress, you actually enjoy the cliché feel good ending, even if it was obvious what will happen.

Overall, The Watch is a bag of many things.  It is film with a lot of moronic and thinly used plot threads and characters, which becomes more focused in the second half, saving the film from being terrible.  Ben Stiller and crew give us common usage of their comedy tactics, but it pays off in the end.  I’d say this is an afternoon kind of film, but nothing more than a quick look on TV or rental.

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