The Watch? I’d rather not.

By Aoife Dowling

I hate to say it, but I think bromance may be dead. I came to this sad conclusion as I watched the credits rolled on The Watch.

Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughan and Jonah Hill – essentially Hollywood’s ‘frat pack’ – star as small-town misfits. Together with an eccentric Englishman (Richard Ayaode), they come together to form a neighbourhood watch in the wake of a gruesome death. Bonding over illegal public drinking, sex jokes and general banter, the guys eventually start to grow close and confide in each other their domestic woes. So far, so bromantic.

Yet The Watch never reaches its stride. There are a few glimpses of real chemistry between the men, before the speech cuts back to repetitive, unfunny jokes. None of the actors settle comfortably into their roles. Stiller should have been the perfect choice to play Evan; the uptight, self-important and enthusiastic small-town guy. Heck, we’ve seen that side of Ben Stiller before; in Meet the Parents, Along Came Polly and even in Zoolander.  Stiller could carry this film with his own volition, if he wanted to. Here, he’s nothing but jaded and half-hearted. Vince Vaughan has only marginally more interest; Jonah Hill is unconvincing as a militant sociopath. Richard Ayaode’s awkward Englishman provides a few laughs, but not enough to save the bromance.

Nobody’s enjoying themselves here: least of all the audience. It’s a pity, because on paper there’s potential for comedy gold. The tedious dialogue and lazy storylines turn the film into a farce, long before we encounter the cringe-inducing alien invasion. There’s little to say about the alien aspect of the film, but it’s painfully bad.

Ultimately, The Watch    breaks under the pressure of its star cast. It tries to be a self-deprecatory Ben Stiller comedy, a back-slapping Vince Vaughan comedy and a crude Jonah Hill comedy all at the same time. With such disparate influences, it inevitably falls flat. Gentlemen: your careers are worth more than this.

Aoife Dowling

 

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