'The Watch': What the Critics are Saying
Twentieth Century Fox's The Watch -- formerly titled Neighborhood Watch -- opens Friday starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade. The sci-fi comedy comes from Superbad and Pineapple Express writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and is helmed by Saturday Night Live director Akiva Schaffer.
The movie follows four suburban guys who form a neighborhood watch group and find themselves defending the Earth from an alien invasion. The comedy has been drawing mostly negative reviews from top critics, with many of them citing offensive ethnic jokes, phallic comments and an unimaginative script as their top complaints.
The Watch currently holds a dismal score of 14 percent on RottenTomatoes.
Read below for some of the reviews from the top critics:
The Hollywood Reporter's film critic Sheri Linden says that, "The genre mishmash might sound fresh: guy-centric goofiness meets sci-fi, with a dash of marital coming-of-age story." However, Linden believes that the original feature "feels like part three of a past-its-prime franchise."
"That might be because topliners Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn are playing the guys they always play, or because the script, credited to Jared Stern, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, moves lazily from setup to punchline to setup, with no particular point and almost no punch," explains Linden.
In her review, Los Angeles Times film critic Betsy Sharkey writes that The Watch, "Goes below the gut for laughs," adding that it might be due to the direction from SNL vet Schaffer.
"Many of the individual sketches are very funny, in that dumb-dudes-doing-dumb-things kind of way. It's the transitions where things tend to fall apart. (And there is at least one glaring continuity gaff. It involves Vaughn's Bob getting bloodied in a fight only to turn up two seconds later totally untouched; no bruises or busted nose in sight.)," says Sharkey.
According to The New York Times' Stephen Holden, "The movie builds to a human-versus-alien showdown so sloppily staged that it makes little visual sense. The bargain-basement pyrotechnics suggest that much of The Watch was filmed on autopilot on a strict budget."
He adds: "In the spirit of The Hangover, it is a whimsical, potty-mouthed buddy movie that lunges for laughs with bursts of profanity; it is also a spoof of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in which the aliens disguise themselves as humans."
"With its endless phallic jokes — references to Magnum condoms, green alien blood with the texture of semen, panic about infertility (Evan is afraid to tell his wife that he is 'shooting blanks') and well-endowed invaders with brains in their genitals — The Watch is the latest in a wave of comedies drenched in male sexual anxiety," Holden says.
Claudia Puig from USA Today calls the movie, "A tasteless comedy about overzealous dudes fighting crime in their suburban Ohio neighborhood." She also agrees with many other critics in that, "The Watch is mocking in its treatment of Midwesterners and offensive in its various ethnic jokes."
Puig addresses the A-list cast behind the film, writing, "What is most disappointing is that so much comic talent is wasted in this generally humorless movie... Given some of the terrific comedies these actors have starred in, it's all the more surprising that any — let alone all — of them wasted their time on The Watch. As for Rogen and Goldberg, this is light years from their hilarious collaborations Superbad and Pineapple Express."
Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum writes: "The Watch emphasizes over and over again in happy-dirty guy talk that borders on obsession, these neighborhood watchmen are primarily united by their R-rated equipment. Their penises. And by the wondrous stuff those genitals are capable of, alone or in the company of others. If this amateur justice league spent as much time analyzing clues as they did analyzing their junk, in every slang variation available in the Urban Dictionary, the murder mystery in The Watch could have been solved on the first night of surveillance."
Schwarzbaum also talks about the characters saying: "What's left on the screen is a manic, patched-together caper starring Ben Stiller as Evan (the exasperated, controlling, uptight guy), Vince Vaughn as Bob (the loud, uncouth, slobby guy), Jonah Hill as Franklin (the vaguely menacing, angry guy) and Richard Ayoade as Jamarcus (the who's he? British guy best known for the British cult-comedy TV show The IT Crowd)."
Film critic Rodrigo Perez from Indiewire says, "But try as they might, this collective wattage of talented funny people are lost within a lifeless, tepid and uninspired comedy."
As for the script, Perez adds: "The script is rather unimaginative, juvenile and crude, but it also feels nondescript and bland, like a work-for-hire gig, even when the comedians have clearly tailored it to their stylings after the fact. And everyone’s largely playing a cliched archetype of themselves."
He also talked about the cast, "As a buddy comedy, all four leads have done better – you already know what those movies are, and this one doesn't stand among them."
The Watch opens nationwide on Friday, July 17.