Timing is everything – ask the guy who’s just published an admiring biography of Joe Paterno! Obviously, the filmmakers who made this raunchy, R-rated sci-fi action-comedy several months ago had no idea that a real-life neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, would shoot and kill 17 year-old Trayvon Martin in Stanford, Florida, but that may undoubtedly influence audience reaction as four guys try to protect their community from an alien invasion.
It opens with the narrator, Evan (Ben Stiller), announcing that his hometown, Glenview, Ohio, is the most wonderful place in the universe. But then he discovers a nest of hostile aliens in the basement of the Costco superstore that he manages. First to fall to the extraterrestrial laser guns is the store’s second-shift security guard, Antonio (Jose Nunez), who is found – lifeless and skinless – in the warehouse. When the investigating sergeant (Will Forte) explains that the suburban town has only eight policemen, Evan forms a neighborhood patrol group that includes boisterous Bob (Vince Vaughn), a rowdy, beer-guzzling construction guy with a rebellious teenage daughter, Chelsea (Erin Moriarty); creepy Franklin (Jonah Hill), a sociopathic, switchblade-wielding, militia-loving loner who still lives with his mother; and mild-mannered, recently divorced Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) a Brit who yearns to hook up with Asian women. When the volunteers stumble across a puddle of green goo that has the same textural consistency as male seminal fluid, a seemingly endless barrage of phallic jokes follows, revolving around the aliens having brains in their genitals, much to the chagrin of Evan’s eager-to-get-pregnant wife Abby (Rosemary DeWitt).
Created by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who collaborated on “Superbad”/“The Pineapple Express,” and Jared Stern (“The Princess and the Frog”/“Mr. Popper’s Penguins”), it’s haphazardly directed by Akiva Schaffer (“Hot Rod”) with lots of improv and an explicit orgy crammed with “Saturday Night Live” cameos.
The original title was “Neighborhood Watch,” which was changed – for obvious reasons – to simply “The Watch.”
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Watch” is an ill-conceived, incoherent 3 – R-rated for overtly excessive nudity and violence.