'The Watch' Movie Review (2012)

The Watch (2012) movie review
Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller, Richard Ayoade and Vince Vaughn in The Watch
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Aliens have arrived on Earth and they're stripping the skin off unsuspecting citizens of Glenview, Ohio and hatching a master plan to destroy the planet. As a result, Evan (Ben Stiller), a socially awkward manager at a local Costco, is inspired to start a neighborhood watch program when his nighttime security guard is skinned alive. These are the the series of events that spawn... The Watch, a new R-rated comedy with continuous laughs throughout and a satisfying introduction, for me at least, to the very funny Richard Ayoade.

The Watch
Grade: B

The Watch"The Watch" is a 20th Century Fox release, directed by Akiva Schaffer and is rated R for some strong sexual content including references, pervasive language and violent images. The running time is .

The cast includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Will Forte, Billy Crudup and Erin Moriarty.

There is little that is technically "new" that is brought to the table in The Watch, which was originally scripted by Jared Stern (writer of the awful Mr. Popper's Penguins) and then, presumably, punched up and given its R-rated content by Superbad scripters Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. But as a 98-minute piece of comedy entertainment it really works.

Playing the lead characters, and making up the neighborhood watch group at the center of the story, are Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and the aforementioned Ayoade. Stiller, Vaughn and Hill are their usual selves. Stiller a bit neurotic; Vaughn the fast talking loudmouth; and Hill a bit of a low-talking creeper. All three play to their strengths and never try too hard to sell the comedy. The sweetener in this mixture, however, is Ayoade with whom I was 100% unacquainted before seeing this film.

Ayoade has been big overseas for some time and in 2010 his comedy Submarine was a hit in Toronto and eventually made waves stateside in 2011. I can see the appeal. Ayoade has a spectacular delivery. A somewhat nasally English accent and less than flamboyant mannerisms make every line delivery land right on point. Here he plays what is best described as an innocent young teen, just entering into puberty in a man's body and he nails it with an innocent grin and not-so-innocent dialogue.

Additional work is put in by Will Forte as an asshole small town cop (he's probably the film's weakest point) and Billy Crudup as a creepy next door neighbor as aliens run amok and, a variety of special effects are on display with Guillermo del Toro's go-to rubber suit man, Doug Jones (Pan's Labyrinth), slipping on the latex once again as the film's hero alien.

Directed by Akiva Schaffer, one-third of the "Saturday Night Live" crew known as The Lonely Island, The Watch plays a little like a collection of the group's much-loved "Digital Shorts". While not necessarily as innovative, the strength of The Watch is continued laughter with very few lulls in entertainment. I also found a personal joy in the soundtrack's use of several old school N.W.A. and Eazy-E songs, bringing back memories of listening to the same tracks with friends of mine back in junior high and high school.

Many will probably ding The Watch for its lack of inventiveness, comparing it to the likes of Attack the Block or even Ghostbusters, or perhaps its anatomy jokes, which I, surprisingly, found quite funny. No matter. If anything, I'm happy to have discovered Richard Ayoade as I've already started catching up on episodes of the UK comedy series "The IT Crowd" in which he starred with the equally comical Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids, The Sapphires).

The Watch may not be overly innovative, but it does have the right ingredients and it utilizes the strengths of all involved. I'd gladly watch it again.


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  • Ron

    Good choice to start watching The IT Crowd, one of my favorite shows. Garth Marenghi's Darkplace is another recommendation, only one season though but hilarious. :)


    If this is a B, why do you think most critics think it's terrible? To me it seems that Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill play the same one note roles. If you have seen any of their other movies, you probably could skip this one.

  • Scott

    Glad to see the so-called "Frat Pack" hanging on, while bringing in fresh blood.

    On a separate note, if you find yourself hiking a nature trail in the wilderness of New Hampshire (like I did Tuesday) and run across John Turturro, just go ahead and be yet another annoying movie fan asking for his photo. Otherwise, you'll see this other family at the bottom of the trail getting a photo with him, and you'll be kicking yourself for not asking for a photo.

    Forget allowing a celebrity to enjoy a moment of vacation peace without imposition: just go ahead, be "that guy", and get the photo!!

    • Arthur Carlson

      A long time ago, I used to do VIP tours at a theme park, including celebrities. One time, I had a celebrity and we would be stopped several times by people that wanted a picture. I usually ask to make sure it's okay, if it isn't then I do my best to keep it from happening, but usually the celebrities are fine with the pictures. What I remember from this one celebrity was as he was getting his picture taken, I said to his wife, "This must be annoying that this keeps happening." She said, "No, it'll be annoying for us if it ever stops." I always thought that was interesting, a perspective I never really thought of before. Don't know why I bring it up now, your story just reminded of it.

  • Arthur Carlson

    For me, I'm torn on this film. I did find myself laughing, but then, when I look back on it, it's not a good movie at all. The action scenes are pretty sloppy, and the odd dramatic elements (between Vaughn and his daughter, and between Stiller and DeWitt) feel awkward and shoehorned into a script that didn't need them. Yeah, I got a little bored of all the "d**k" jokes, and that's saying something because I love "d**k" jokes. So, yeah, I laughed (mainly at Vaughn and Hill, but I think Ayoade is so low key in this film that his funny stuff seemed to get shouted over.) but I think this movie was sloppily directed and some jokes that should've worked fail. (the explanation of why the aliens were doing it should've a great moment of parody with lazy motives for alien invasion, but it seems more just thrown in there and not used for strong comedic effect.) And though, the consistent Costco product placement ticked me off at points, I did laugh out loud at the awesome "Costco is for members only" line read of Ben Stiller.

  • maja

    Good review and i know it's still early days but that RT score is simply brutal. I think I may give this one a pass in the theatres as the later trailers seem terrible and this movie may be better suited for a DVD rental when there's lower expectations and less money spent.

  • Corbett

    Have you seen Submarine? Ayoade directed that and Stiller produced. Good movie.

  • Danny

    Wow, Brad. I agree with your reviews about half the time... and the majority of your reviews we are far apart on are comedies, a lot of mainstream broad comedies you dislike, I enjoy...even if they aren't modern comedy masterpieces... So given that you gave The Watch a solid review, I know I will like it and like it quite a bit! ... Which I pretty much decided from the previews that I would at least enjoy it...

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      You never know, I seem to have weird taste when it comes to comedies. Hope you like it though. We need more on our side of the line. :)

      • JJ

        I was actually suprised how funny this movie was. Considering how funny I thought Ted was, which you hated, I wasn't sure if it would be very funny. Glad I was wrong

  • Bryce

    Brad, I saw this movie this afternoon, and it was terrible. The more I read your reviews, the less I feel compelled to view you as a credible source for quality reviews. Seriously, if you think this movie is better than say, Spiderman (not that that movie was any good), then I seriously question your movie sense. Ugh... terrible.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      No problem. Just giving my honest opinion. All the best.

      • http://thefilmgoersproject.com Matt

        Props for not feeding the troll. I seldom agree with your assessments of films, but you have occasionally championed some under-appreciated films I enjoy (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, for instance). Regardless, taste is completely subjective and your reviews are among the most enjoyable on the web. Keep doing what you're doing and ignore our friend Bryce here.

        I haven't seen The Watch yet. I plan to catch it this weekend. Expectations are low, but I'll see any Jonah Hill comedy.

    • Newbourne

      Let him enjoy his movie and STFU.

      Ideally, Brad would prefer to enjoy ALL movies and give them ALL good reviews. No one walks into a movie wanting to hate it. So when he actually finds something enjoyable in a movie that many don't consider good, he should be praised, not bashed.

      I never planned to see it because it didn't seem like a movie I'd like. But now that Brad gave it a positive review, I'm going to check it out. If I like the movie, my enjoyment will be thanks to Brad. If I don't like it, that's too bad, but I won't be mad at Brad for giving it a good review. I'd be jealous that he got to go to the movies and watch a film he enjoyed.

  • nouh,holla

    ayoade was great in the mighty boosh. he was my favorite member for the shaman council.

  • Phil5150

    Well Brad, for what its worth, I use your reviews as a benchmark and relay to friends. So far, you have been 'spot-on' and it makes me cool with the ladies B-)
    soooo, thank you.

  • Matt

    I saw it last night. While I didn't like it as much as you did, I found it fairly enjoyable overall. Richard Ayoade, who I was only previously familiar with as the director of Submarine and a Community episode, is the film's strongest asset. The oddly serious subplots involving Stiller's infertility and Vaughn's teenage daughter didn't work for me, but there were enough laughs for a one-time viewing. It certainly deserves better than 15%, I'd say.

  • Hannah

    I don't know why all the bad reviews, this film is great! Though very rude in places, I love Ayoade's lines, especially when his true identity is uncovered..I think the predictability and classic alien movieness actually helps though, as it takes on a spoof-like quality! very good!

  • richardtenenbaum

    I remember reading your review of this film and am just now watching it, so i feel i must comment. I find myself to shying away from the comedy genre bc of what it has become in the last decade, but I really enjoyed this movie. I loved richard ayaode in darth, and boosh, and maybe I.T. if i could bare to watch it, and especially this film, in which i see him being exposed to an American audience. Vince Vaughn plays this "everybody's best friend" character, like he often does, and it completely works again. Also, It shows an aging Ben Stiller, and I feel this is the best kind of Ben Stiller. Anyway, I whole-heartedly agree with this review. Now let's get a round of applause.