Entertainment Movies

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Watchmen left wanting

Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

big film release

The Watch

(15A, general release, 102 minutes)

Director: Akiva Schaffer Stars: Ben Stiller, Vine Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade

HHIII

A strange hybrid of a movie, The Watch was briefly mired in controversy before its release when 20th Century Fox was forced to remove trailers and posters in the wake of a Florida shooting involving neighbourhood watch captain George Zimmerman.

That brush with current affairs makes The Watch sound much more interesting than it actually is. Ben Stiller is the film's everyman, Evan Trautwig, a rather anal retail warehouse manager who lives in an idyllic small town called Glenview.

When his store's security guard is killed one night in mysterious circumstances, Evan is horrified and decides to do something about it. He sets up a Neighbourhood Watch group, but the response is poor, and only three volunteers turn up. While Evan wants to catch his security guard's killer, Bob (Vince Vaughn) and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) are out for a good time, while Franklin (Jonah Hill) is worryingly keen on violence. But what none of them know is that the killer they're after is not of this planet.

After a modestly amusing start, The Watch switches course abruptly from black social comedy into a jokey science-fiction romp. It's a profoundly lazy film which barely bothers to explain its alien premise and resorts early and often to dick jokes, which should come as no surprise when you realise that Seth Rogen is among the writers.

In this crapulent comfort zone, Vaughn and Hill revert irritatingly to type and give us wearisomely familiar performances, and as the film enters its final third the characters are engulfed by a blizzard of low humour.

Only The IT Crowd star Richard Ayoade manages to wring a few genuine laughs from a hackneyed script, and Ben Stiller looks lost in a mess not of his making.

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