Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Film Review – The Watch

Comedy is a tricky thing. You can have all the ingredients necessary for a truly amazing film and everything goes wrong simply by virtue of a single element being slightly off. The trailers for The Watch seemed to indicate that we had a rollicking good time of a comedy on our hands. I can tell you that while the film has its moments, and is pretty damn funny most of the time, the whole thing doesn’t come together in any real way to make something that will hold up to repeat viewings the way a comedy with this many great players really should. Compared to Ben Stiller’s turn in Tropic Thunder, this thing really falls flat. Nobody here really nails anything with the kind of confidence that Stiller and co. did in that particular film. Here we seem to be expected to laugh because of the manner in which the joke is delivered without the joke being actually clever. We are expected to chuckle because of Vaughn or Hill or Ayoade’s cadence and delivery rather than the fact that what they are saying may be funny. Most of the time it works, because the dialog falls into absurdity and nonsense and our brain, in an attempt to reconcile that, interprets it as comedy. Upon repeat viewings, I don’t see those jokes holding up. Unless the underlying premise is solid, delivery alone can’t save it.

The film doesn’t really commit to anything. It doesn’t want to dwell too much on the alien aspect of the storyline, focusing more on the people in the eponymous neighborhood watch, but in doing so they have to manufacture drama to make their lives interesting and this comes at the detriment of the comedy. That is the number one flaw with the film. When the film does work it is because someone decides to fully commit to the premise. Will Forte shines in every damn second he has on screen because there is something there beyond a tilted line delivery, though he does bring his own brand of wacky characterization to the table as well. He just doesn’t hinge his entire performance on it the way Hill or Vaughn do. Hill is the worst offender, as his character is very one-note, and it’s not  a pitch-perfect note either. Vaughn plays the same character he always plays, so I’m sure his usual crowd will be pleased but he didn’t do much for me.

I think this is one of those films that would have benefited from a little bit more of a backbone. If they had the guts to really commit to any level of the premise it could have been a great film, but unfortunately that’s just not the case. I would recommend just catching it when it hits cable or redbox because I feel paying theater prices for this sort of mediocre offering will leave you feeling more disappointed than you really should. It’s not terrible, it’s just so middle of the road that any effort made to see it will taint your opinion of the overall product.

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