Starring: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade
Director: Akiva Schaffer
Produced by: 20th Century Fox, Dune Entertainment
For those of you familiar with the names above, you might be wondering How the heck did Richard Ayoade get involved with a movie starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn? It was this question that led me to watching “The Watch” for the first time.
Ben Stiller (Zoolander, Tropic Thunder) plays Evan, a man who is in love with his neighborhood. He runs every extracurricular, knows every neighbor by name, and is the manager at the local Costco where he loves each customer and every single employee. When his night manager is murdered one evening, Evan decides to start a neighborhood watch to end the senseless violence.
The Watch starts like a typical American comedy. If you’ve seen any other movie starring Ben Stiller, then you’ll be familiar with the feeling of this film. After he calls his neighborhood watch meeting, things begin to fall apart because the only people that show up are Vince Vaughn (Dodge Ball, Wedding Crashers) who is an obnoxious neighbor that Evan hates, Jonah Hill (Superbad, 21 Jump Street) who is a delusional kid that has always wanted to be a cop, and Richard Ayoade (I.T. Crowd) the new neighbor who is a polite and refined British man with a stereotypical African-American name, an awkwardly dirty sense of humour, and who definitely does not belong in this film.
Richard Ayoade is the best part of this movie by far. He basically just plays a less modest version of himself. His humour is off-colour, every word he says goes over the heads of the other people in the room, and he is constantly making comments that seem like the opposite of what he would say. In his introduction scene, he politely explains how he’s only signing up because he has a fantasy about picking up a scared and lonely housewife while on the job. This is coming from a man who is wearing a three-piece suit and has glasses bigger than his face. In addition to being hilariously cavalier about most sexual things, he doesn’t seem to understand anything that is going on around him. Every single American custom seems to escape him and his role in this film thrives on that misunderstanding. Jonah Hill spends much of the movie explaining commonly used colloquialisms to him and he still can’t get them right. He plays the ‘terribly polite but with no idea what’s going on’ character very well. Without realizing, this attribute of Ayoade’s character plays a huge role in what is one of the biggest plot twists in film history.
Ayoade’s brand of comedy somehow oddly fits into this context. The mixture of flat, British humour and crass American humour trying to imitate one another makes for a pretty amusing platform. As the movie continues, so do the murders, and pretty soon the neighborhood watch realize they are really up against aliens, not criminals, which launches the whole thing into a ridiculous sci-fi mystery plotline. At one point they accidentally kill an alien and there is a montage of them taking photos with its dead body while the J. Geils Band’s Centerfold plays over the clips. That scene sums up the entire feeling of this movie.
Fool on the Hill:
I love this movie. That being said, I don’t think this film is for everyone. It has become the film I go to when I am at home sick or stuck inside on a snowy day. I quote this film on a daily basis. I could easily have it on in the background and giggle at my favourite parts as I’m grading papers in the evening. This film needs little brain power to enjoy and it mixes my favourite parts of American and British comedy. I checked the Walmart bargain bin religiously for this for months in order to own this movie on DVD, but I didn’t believe it was worth the $15 on Amazon. It’s silly, it’s ridiculous, and the actors looked like they had a good time filming it. And in case you needed a reason to be introduced to Richard Ayoade’s work, this could be a good transition for you.
I really want to add a Ben Stiller film to my collection that I can sit down and enjoy. This wasn’t it. While it did give me a few chuckles here and there, overall it felt mundane and I found myself waiting for the end credits. I couldn’t even give a shoutout to any lead actor because they were all playing types they’ve played before in other productions. Seriously, you could pluck their characters from other films and placed them in this one and nothing would change. For fans of the actors or the type of humor they use though, The Watch is one you should see. It will probably give you more laughs than it does me. Also, the quality of the alien design and special effects was top notch, R. Lee Ermey making an appearance was and is always special, and some of the gunplay is good.