The Watch

PETA won't like what they're doing to a cow with this weapon.

When I was going to bring a friend to the screening of this, he asked what many people probably did when they arrived at the theatre.

“What is ‘The Watch’? I never heard of it.”

When you explain it’s the Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn movie that was originally called “Neighborhood Watch,” everyone remembers.

Not sure if changing the name of this was necessary (after George Zimmerman shooting in Florida), and I’m guessing the studio is bummed. The title is funny. Just as the title Mall Cop was.

And if you don’t mind seeing the cast do the same characters they’ve done in other movies, you’ll be surprised it actually has a decent amount of laughs (about 15 more than the last Woody Allen movie).

I’ve often said I wouldn’t mind seeing Vince Vaughn just standing around throwing one-liners and insults, and hear he does that. Sure, a better script by Seth Rogen (yep, he wrote this) would’ve helped.

You’ll also think about the alien movie he did the voice for – Paul; as well as a little Attack the Block, Ghostbusters, Hangover, Superbad, Mars Attacks…you get the point.

Critics are tearing this movie apart, but let me tell you something about critics. Most of them liked 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike – both awful films. And the one critic I glanced at that reviewed this movie, called Rosemarie DeWitt’s character “sex starved.” Well, they must not have gotten what was going on. They make it clear that her and Stiller are trying to conceive, so she points out when she’s ovulating. Since he runs so many clubs in town, he never seems to be home. So when he walks in the door and she’s attacking him, it’s not because she’s sex starved. It’s because she might not see him again for days.

The story is about a suburban town in Ohio that is invaded by aliens. They seem to like Costco. Perhaps instead of capturing humans to probe anally, they like huge tubs of mustard.

Stiller managers the Costco and when he feels the cops aren’t doing a good enough job in the investigation of an employees murder, he forms a neighborhood watch.

Will Forte is funny as one of the cops that doesn’t seem to care about anything but harassing Stiller. Andy Samberg, another Saturday Night Live alumni, has a great cameo as…well the credits list him as “casual wanker #1.”

The film was directed by Akiva Schaffer, who worked on SNL directing video shorts, and perhaps he’s a bit over his head with this.

Jonah Hill plays a guy that didn’t make it in the police academy. He twirls his butterfly knife around ready to mix it up. In two commercials for this movie, they have him saying things at a party he never did in the movie. So you won’t have to worry about “the commercials showing all the funny parts.”

Billy Crudup, who blew me away last year as the angry locksmith in Thin Ice, plays a gay neighbor that has his eyes on Stiller.

The show is stolen by British comedic genius Richard Ayoade. The guy in front of me thought it was Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords. I’m sure many made that mistake.

Ayoade wrote and directed one of my favorite films from last year – Submarine. And it’s a blast listening to the various reasons why he joined the neighborhood watch (“to meet a bored housewife…preferably an Asian one…”). His deadpan delivery is a perfect fit with the manic Vince Vaughn.

The classic rock and Bachman Turner Overdrive sing-alongs are fun, as well as both times we hear the gangster rap of NWA.

Sure, there are way too many dick jokes and it’s a rather sloppy comedy…but you laugh. Isn’t that what you want when you go to a comedy?

You should watch The Watch. I’m giving it 3 out of 5 stars.

Side note: how is it they were able to use a real phone number on the neighborhood watch posters?