The Watch takes place in the quiet town of Glenview, Ohio, where Evan (Ben Stiller), enthusiastic member of the community and manager of the local Costco supermarket, takes it upon himself to form a Neighbourhood Watch after a security guard is murdered in his shop overnight. The only people he manages to recruit, however, are misfits Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill) and Jamarcus (Ayoade), who are far more interested in drinking and having fun than protecting the community. Upon the discovery of a mysterious metallic sphere, the gang realise that an alien attack is imminent, and it is up to them to save the community and, by extension, the world.
Although the genre hybrid here works very well, The Watch balances the two clumsily and ends up getting it all wrong. There’s no denying that the sci-fi comedy is a tried and tested formula (Ghostbusters anyone?), but despite delivering on its sci-fi elements (borrowing their anatomy from something between Ridley Scott’s xenomorph and the ‘prawns’ of District 9, the aliens are so well designed and animated that you almost wish this were a straight science fiction alien invasion movie!), The Watch dwells persistently on its immature humour to the point where it well outstays its welcome.
The on-screen partnership between veterans Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn has grown irreparably stale and the lack of laughs here is testament to that. The desperately unfunny script is mostly to blame though, loaded with boring penis jokes and insipid pop culture references which squeeze out a chuckle at best. The funnier moments are reserved for Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade, with the far lesser known latter emerging on top as the mismatched Brit.
Though The Watch remains entertaining thanks in large part to its sci-fi edge, it is an incredibly disappointing comedy considering the highly qualified team behind it. Despite a small handful of decent moments, it simply isn’t worth the watch.