The unintentionally controversial summer comedy The Watch is now available on home media, and Movie Buzzers recently got the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from 20th Century Fox. Is the disc worth your purchase?
Evan (Ben Stiller) is the manager of the Costco in his All-American suburban town of Greenville, Ohio and he also happens to be the most civic-minded individual you’d ever meet. He’s the type that is always rallying for a small potatoes cause and doing all he can to maintain the safety of his community. However, this sense of responsibility goes into overdrive when Antonio (Joe Nunez), the nightwatchman at the Costco, is brutally murdered in mysterious circumstances. Evan decides to form a neighborhood watch group to find Antonio’s murderer, and he is joined by party animal Bob (Vince Vaughn) who uses the group as an excuse to spy on his teenage daughter’s social life, weapon-crazy wannabe cop Franklin (Jonah Hill), and the mysterious Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). Though Evan is at first frustrated by the other three using the group as an opportunity to party and throw their weight around the neighborhood, and local residents (including the great R. Lee Ermey) and the local police force, led by Sgt. Bressman (Will Forte), see the group as a nuisance. But despite their hard-partying ways the group discovers that a sinister alien killed Antonio… and the invasion has only just started.
The Watch has a lot of funny moments — Stiller is in his “straight man” persona while Vaughn and Hill provide the outlandish comedy — but it doesn’t rank among any of their best films. Part of the problem is that the film gradually shifts from a freewheeling comedy to sci-fi action with a dose of comedy. It’s actually surprising that it isn’t more of the former since the film was written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who wrote Superbad and Pineapple Express (a third writer, Jared Stern, is also credited — he wrote Mr. Popper’s Penguins, so it’s not like sci-fi action is in his wheelhouse either). Director Akiva Schaffer is best known as the writer/director of The Lonely Island SNL shorts (he also directed Hot Rod), and he obviously aims for a middle-of-the-road comedy that, while R-rated, isn’t really inappropriate. In fact, with a few minimal dialogue trims this could have easily be a PG-13 movie, so it’s not like it’s breaking any new comedic ground. Of the four leads Vaughn is the standout, and considering that he really doesn’t do movies as frequently as he used to it was great hearing his sarcastic quips again.
As you probably know, four months before the film’s release the country was rocked over a controversy in which a Florida neighborhood watchman named George Zimmerman shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin, which led to this film to be retitled from its original Neighborhood Watch. The Watch never really got a fair shake in theaters because the controversy led fox to really downplay its advertising, which is a shame because the film has nothing at all to do with the events surrounding the shooting. It probably also didn’t help that The Watch was released two months after Men in Black 3, a similarly-themed alien comedy. While The Watch made $67.4 million worldwide, that wasn’t even enough to cover the $68 million budget.
All of the features are on the Blu-ray disc and not on the DVD, so if you pop in the DVD at a friend’s house if said friend has no Blu-ray player, you’re out of luck on the extra content.
Deleted Scenes — Twenty-four (!) minutes of footage cut from the movie, though most of it comes from scenes that have been trimmed to eliminate jokes that tend to meander too long. As such there’s nothing here that’s really missed from the movie, although there are a few scenes that would’ve added more clarification to plot, including one in which Sgt. Bressman accuses Evan of being the skin-stealer murderer.
Gag Reel — By now you should be familiar with these features: it’s nearly four minutes of the actors laughing during their takes or blowing their lines. As usual, it’s Vaughn who provides the biggest laughs here.
Alternate Takes with Jonah Hill — Five and a half minutes of Hill ad-libbing lines, from which the filmmakers chose what to keep in order to maintain a believable amount of silliness. They chose well, because some of the stuff Hill says in this bit is so ridiculous that it all just seems like he’s trying too hard. Obviously there’s a place in movies like this for riffing, but this feature shows why it’s so important for the filmmakers to reign it in when it goes overboard.
Watchmakers — This twelve minute “making of” features covers the main cast and crew of the film, with perhaps the most interesting part being the parts that focus on Doug Jones, who plays the aliens. Jones is probably best known for playing Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies, and I think this might be the first time I’ve actually seen him out of a costume!
Aliens and You — This throwaway two-minute feature features the cast and crew talking about what they would do if faced with a real alien invasion. None seem particularly excited to answer the question.
Casting the Alien — In this feature it’s pretended that the alien in the film isn’t played by Doug Jones and is instead an actual alien who auditioned for the role. I guess that’s clever, but certainly not funny enough to last for this five and a half minute feature.
You also get the trailer from the movie and several sneak peeks.
Movie Review: While it’s great to see Vaughn in a lead again and has a number of great laughs, considering the cast it should be much more entertaining (6/10).
Disc Rating: Most of the features are throwaways, but at least the gag reel is good for a few additional laughs (5/10).