Richard Ayoade, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller and Jonah Hill keep neighborhoods safe. Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox
I wanted “The Watch” to be funny. I really did. Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn have all made me laugh in the comedy classics that they’ve starred in individually. I’ve never heard of the fourth guy, Richard Ayoade, but he seemed nice enough. The premise seemed solid: Overzealous guys suddenly must address the very real problem of alien invasion, wacky hi-jinx ensue. I even read a few reviews before seeing it, which told me that the film was obscene and filled with body part jokes. I love those jokes, so I went in believing that there was no way I would be disappointed. Sadly, I was.
The film begins with the formation of a neighborhood watch group made up of Evan (Stiller), Bob (Vaughn), Franklin (Hill) and Jamarcus (Ayoade). The Watch is formed in response to the mysterious death of Evan’s friend and employee Antonio, who was killed during his shift as the night watchman of the Costco that Evan manages. The quartet bumbles their way through their first few missions before accidentally hitting an unknown creature and finding a mysterious ball. The ball leads them to discover that an alien invasion is imminent and they must fight to save the Earth.
The film has several unnecessarily suspenseful moments, with the aliens looking and acting as though they are in a horror movie. The violence, while not necessarily disturbing, is pretty over the top for a comedy film as well. I’d like to think that one dismembered body would be enough for a movie like this, but there are three. I would be more than happy to excuse the gore if it had been presented in a way that made me laugh. But like most other things in this movie, it did not.
I went into this film expecting numerous jokes about male genitalia. This turned out to be both true and untrue. While there were several uses of the term “penis” and its many variations, I cannot honestly call the uses “jokes.” There were observations, remarks, and clichés said about the penis, but no penis jokes. I’d like to relay some of these hee-larious musings to you, but the majority of the remarks are actually crucial plot points. To tell you what they said about their genitals would be to spoil the movie, so I’ll abstain. But of course, any movie that is entirely dependent on what’s in the character’s pants can be nothing less than hysterical.
It’s worth noting that I’m currently a high school student that still laughs when my friends release particularly pungent farts. I’m not some prude who can’t handle hearing dirty words. In fact, all of my favorite words are dirty. But the fact that even I, the target audience, don’t find the smut funny is pretty revealing as to how overplayed some of these gags are.
Despite the major shortcomings of the sex jokes, the film is not without its charms. Jonah Hill’s character Franklin is by far the funniest member of the Watch, and is actually a pleasant deviation from the lovable loser that Hill usually plays. Franklin is the loose cannon of the group, having been rejected from the police academy for failing the physical, written, and mental health exams. Watching Franklin pretend to be Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon while twirling a butterfly knife is probably the most amusing part of this movie.
Simply put, this movie is pretty much just a collection of swear words and cliché comments about genitals that I would have found funny in 6th grade. To be fair, when the film takes a rare step away from blue comedy to make a cleaner joke, it’s usually funny. Sadly, they don’t do that often enough for me to consider this a funny movie. If you want to teach your middle school-age child extreme curse words and sex terms before his friends on the playground do, go ahead and take him or her (Okay, him) to this movie. Otherwise, just watch “The Dark Knight Rises” a second time.