‘The Watch’ won’t make you look at yours

Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller, Richard Ayoade and Vince Vaughn in 'The Watch'
Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller, Richard Ayoade and Vince Vaughn in ‘The Watch’

The Watch is all about four guys who band together in an ordinary town in Ohio to solve a murder, keep their town safe, and in the minds of three of them, have a great time while doing those two things.  Whatever else The Watch may be, the most important thing to remember is that it passes the acid test for comedies.  It is funny.  Laugh out loud funny in places.

Ben Stiller is “Evan”, who is convinced he has a perfect life.  He is the manager of the local Costco.  He organized the town’s running club and he’s in such good shape he’s leading them on every run.  He organized a Spanish table for Spanish speakers.  He created a position for himself on the town council.  And he’s even made friends with some members of minority groups.  He’s also married to a good looking wife who wants to have a baby and is very willing to have sex whenever she’s ovulating (and at other times as well).

But Ben’s life is forever altered when the body of the overnight security guard keeping the Costco safe is discovered early one morning.  Just the night before, he and “Antonio” had been bonding and celebrating Antonio’s new status as an American citizen.  Now he’s dead and Ben wants to make sure that his killer is brought to justice, and that Glenview (the town) is made safe.  So he posts fliers all over town asking for volunteers to join him in creating the new “Neighborhood Watch”.

Ben Stiller stars in 'The Watch'
Ben Stiller stars in ‘The Watch’

Three people show up for the first meeting.  “Bob” (Vince Vaughn) seems more interested in making friends and drinking beers than catching any killers and he soon has the meeting moved to his man-cave basement with big screen television, pool table, and plenty of cold beer.  “Franklin” (Jonah Hill) is busy playing with his butterfly knife but manages to let everyone know that he tried to join the police department but was turned down for reasons beyond his comprehension.  After all, he only failed the physical, written and mental exams.  “Jamarcus” (Richard Ayoade) is the last to arrive and he seems as interested in fulfilling one of his sexual fantasies (you saw it in the trailer, he wants to find a sexy Asian housewife to… well, do something to him he’s never experienced before).

Soon they have jackets with a logo that Evan did not sanction and he’s not happy about that, although Bob loves his own design.  Then they stake out the Costco, figuring the criminal will return to the scene of the crime.  That doesn’t go well, nor does their attempt at responding to their first summons by the citizens, which results in the Watch becoming victims of a prank.

But the body count goes up and soon the Watch discovers that there are aliens in Glenview, and they have a device that may do something else besides blowing stuff up once you handle it properly.  Then The Watch becomes a struggle to stop the aliens before they overwhelm not just Glenview, but the entire planet.

“Evan” and “Bob” are the most interesting characters.  Evan is exactly what Bob calls him at one point, a control freak who has to be in charge.  He’s very much in love with his wife, but that doesn’t explain the fact he’s keeping a secret from her, a secret that troubles him greatly.  Bob is a loving father, who doesn’t trust his teen-aged daughter, but his interference in her life isn’t because he’s some prick, it’s out of love and genuine concern for her.

This is a raunchy film.  Just as the zombies of multiple zombie films can be killed only by a headshot, these aliens have only one specific vulnerability and it’s a real hoot once it is revealed.  There is a lot of verbal profanity, but only one gratuitous boob shot.  The raunchiness is forgivable because there are so many cheap, easy laughs throughout the experience.  The special effects and science-fiction stuff is only ordinary but that’s not the reason you go to see The Watch.  You go to laugh and believe me, you will.

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