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.
October 21, 2002 10:33am EST
The British Film Institute awarded Miramax Films co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein with its prestigious Fellowship Award in London Sunday, The Associated Press reports. Under the Weinsteins' leadership, Miramax has released the Oscar-winning films Shakespeare in Love and The English Patient, as well as Clerks, Chocolat and The Cider House Rules. This is the first time the award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding contribution to film and television, has gone to the head of a studio. Past recipients include Orson Welles, Martin Scorsese, Michael Caine, Clint Eastwood, Akira Kurosawa, Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Altman.
Angelina Jolie, who is building a home in Cambodia, says she has had the land around her residence cleared of land mines. Jolie, a supporter of the Adopt-A-Minefield charity, plans on living in the Southeast Asian nation part-time with her 1-year-old son, but tells the AP she is scared he will step on a land mine. "I'm terrified that he could go for a walk and step on something, so I'm very aware of what parents there must feel."
Steven Spielberg has filed a restraining order against a woman who stalked him and claimed he implanted a mind-control device in her head. According to People.com, Spielberg's security team believes the woman, Diana Louisa Napolis, suffers from a delusional disorder and poses a serious risk of violent confrontation with the filmmaker.
In Matrix-related news, Linkin Park, System of a Down, Prodigy and former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha are all reported to be contributing to the soundtrack to The Matrix Reloaded. According to MTV.com, the artists will be asked to watch clips from the film for musical inspiration. The Matrix Reloaded is already being touted as 2003's biggest blockbuster. The film hits theaters May 15.
Martin Scorsese will executive produce an HBO film about abolitionist John Brown, Variety reports. Cloudsplitter will be an epic retelling of Brown's crusade to abolish slavery, which lead to his attack on Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in 1859 and sparked the Civil War. Raoul Peck will direct the movie, which is based on a novel by The Sweet Hereafter author Russell Banks.
Jumping on the American Idol bandwagon, the USA Network announced Friday a nationwide search for the next country sensation. According to Reuters, open auditions for Nashville Star will kick off at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville Oct. 22. The winner will get a recording contract from Sony Music Nashville.
The 1970s British rock group Queen, whose hits include "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You," got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Friday. Members Brian May and Roger Taylor attended the unveiling ceremony in front of Ivar Nightclub.
Radiohead took home Q music magazine's best act in the world award for the second year in a row, BBC News reports. Oasis was nominated in three different categories but failed to collect a single award. Other winners included Coldplay for best album, Swedish rock sensation The Hives for best live act and Pink's "Get the Party Started" for best video. Moby took best producer.