Troubled by unfortunate event after unfortunate event The Watch sidesteps faux pas to come out on top as a consistently funny sci-fi comedy that doesn't let its high concept tangle up a bevy of one-liners. The script penned by Jared Stern Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg assumes you've seen a few movies before entering the theater (mainly any sci-fi movie made in the 1980s). "Summer movie logic" is the foundation for The Watch's ridiculous plot which finds four adult nincompoops teaming up to form a Neighborhood Watch trying to solve the murder of a local Costco employee and eventually pursuing a killer extraterrestrial. Instead of making sense of it all The Watch wisely focuses on its four leads: Ben Stiller Vince Vaughn Jonah Hill and The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade — a quartet whose bro banter goes a long way in spicing up the dust-covered material. There's nothing revelatory to be found in The Watch but the cast's knack for improv a poetry of the profane makes the adventure worth…viewing.
Director Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod) establishes his two-dimensional characters quickly and bluntly smashing together broad personality types like a Hadron Collider of cinematic comedy. Stiller's Evan is a micromanaging do-gooder who can't find time for his wife; Hill's Franklin is a mildly disturbed weapons enthusiast yearning to join the police; Ayoade is the quaint weirdo who joins the Watch to fill the void left by his divorce; Vince Vaughn is Vince Vaughn: a loud crass gent looking for a bit of male bonding. The ragtag team assembles to fight crime but they spend most of their time drinking beers in a minivan — an affair they dub "stakeouts." A perfect opportunity for banter.
For a movie about enforcing the law and alien invasions there's a surprising lack of action in The Watch. Long stretches of the film see the central players yapping back and forth about everything: Russian nesting dolls peeing in cans or the similar viscosities of alien goo and human excrement. Charisma goes a long way and Vaughn does much of the heavy lifting making up for lost time out of the spotlight (he's been virtually nonexistent since 2005's Wedding Crashers). The man spits out jokes like no other — the rest of the cast barely keeps up. Ayoade balances out Vaughn's bombardment with a tempered timed delivery that's uniquely British and rarely found on the American big screen. Even when nothing's happening in The Watch it's rarely boring.
The Watch is at its best when it goes a step further mixing the group in with outsiders and throwing them off their rhythm. Billy Crudup cuts loose as a creepy neighbor and its delightfully weird while the always-impressive Rosemarie DeWitt as Evan's wife Abby brings unexpected warmth to the couple's relationship. Sadly The Watch mishandles its greatest asset: the aliens. The film never finds a pitch perfect blend of comedy and science fiction (Ghostbusters or Galaxy Quest this is not); a few scenes where the two come together hint at the best possible scenario but more often than not The Watch avoids its sci-fi roots. A moment in which the guys haul a dead alien back to their man cave plays like an E.T.-inspired version of The Hangover credits. It's lewd and ridiculous but the rest of the film struggles to maintain that energy.
Stiller Vaughn Hill and Ayoade have all proved themselves able funnymen capable of taking weak and tired material up a notch which they're forced to do in every moment of The Watch. Schaffer can handle his talent but his direction isn't adding anything to the mix. By the third slow-motion-set-to-gangster-rap scene The Lonely Island member's obsession with non-cool-coolness is officially just an attempt at being cool (which is not all that funny). The Watch has a greater opportunity than most comedy blockbusters to go absolutely bonkers: it's rated R. But instead of taking its twist and running with it the movie plays it safe. In this case safe is non-stop jokes about the many facets of human reproduction.
Napster, the wildly popular Web site that allowed users to swap music files for free, will finally have a pay version ready this year despite its legal pummeling by the record industry. Thomas Middelhoff, chief executive of media giant and Napster backer Bertelsmann, said in his speech at the two-day Babelsburg 2001 conference, "Out of the onetime pirate, a business will be born. Of course, Napster will be put into a legal form that protects the rights of artists and producers." Napster will be joining other fee-based music services such as Pressplay, backed by Vivendi Universal and Sony and independent distribution companies FullAudio and Uplister.
Anne Heche, the former girlfriend of comedian Ellen Degeneres, will marry cameraman Coley Laffoon on Saturday. A friend of Anne's told a British news service, "Anne's days as a lesbian have been purged from her memory...Anne's wedding is a celebration of her re-entry into the world of heterosexuality."
One of Spain's best-known actors, Francisco Rabal, died in Bordeaux, France, Wednesday after the plane he was traveling in made an emergency landing to allow him to receive medical treatment. He was in his 70s. The cause of death has not been released.
American Pie star Tara Reid testified Tuesday in the grand jury hearing against publicist Elizabeth Grubman, who allegedly backed her sport utility vehicle into a crowd of people outside a trendy nightclub in the Hamptons on July 7, injuring several. The 26-year-old Reid was reportedly with Grubman at a party right before the crash. Grubman is being charged with assault and reckless endangerment.
The lawsuit filed by the American Italian Defense Association against the popular HBO series The Sopranos was brought to a Cook County Circuit courtroom Wednesday. The lawyer for the AIDA urged the judge to issue a declaratory judgement condemning the show as a violation of a clause in the Illinois Constitution guaranteeing individual dignity. AOL Time Warner, Inc.'s attorney, however, urged the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that "courts are not suppose to adjudicate the content of television programs," according to Reuters.
George Harrison's bid to stop his former business manager and partner from declaring bankruptcy was thrown out by Judge Barry Schermer of a St. Louis court circuit who refused the claim that the musician was too ill to give a local deposition. Harrison is trying to protect a settlement of $11 million that he won against Denis O'Brien, his business manager, for alleged mismanagement. Harrison will appeal the ruling.
Superstar Nicole Kidman arrived in style at the Venice Film Festival Thursday, dragging along six bodyguards, 22 pieces of luggage and reportedly getting a speeding ticket on her way to her hotel. The Italian newspapers had a field day as paparazzi pursued Kidman across the canals, desperate to get any tidbits from the redheaded actress about her three-week-old divorce from Tom Cruise. Kidman is at the festival to promote her new film The Others.
To generate excitement for the third installment of its hit reality series, CBS will air an hour-long Survivor special Thursday Oct. 4 at 8 p.m., one week before Survivor 3: Africa bows in the same time slot. Details for the show are still being worked out but apparently the special will focus on how to play the game and will give a preview of Survivor 3.
Michael Jackson's much-anticipated return to the music world with his new single "You Rock My World" has not been getting the wild reaction hoped for, according to many station programmers. Dave Morales, music director for KHKS-FM in Dallas, told Reuters, "We got the single, we heard it and put it on the air...and it was just sort of there. We're not getting any more repeat requests for it." However, for the "You Rock My World" video, Jackson apparently has snagged Marlon Brando and the cast of the The Sopranos. Brando stepped in when actor Robert De Niro had to back out. The video will also feature Benicio Del Toro and Chris Tucker.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are making a comeback with a $40-$60 million CGI feature film with John Woo and Terence Chang producing. A new animated Saturday morning TV series, a live-action miniseries to air on the Hallmark Channel and a series of next-generation video games are also expected to be developed.