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Alien-invasion comedy ‘The Watch’ fails to launch

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The Details

The Watch
Two and a half stars
Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade
Directed by Akiva Schaffer
Rated R. Opens Friday
Beyond the Weekly
IMDb: The Watch
Rotten Tomatoes: The Watch

Adding extensive special effects to a comedy never makes it funnier, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood studios from trying to re-create the success of big-budget blockbuster comedies like the Ghostbusters and Men in Black movies. What those movies have in common, though, are clever concepts, well-drawn characters and entertaining performances, not just eye-catching effects. The Watch is missing everything but the effects, and even those aren’t particularly impressive.

It takes nearly an hour of the movie before the suburban neighborhood watch group led by uptight Costco manager Evan (Ben Stiller) actually encounters the alien invasion threatening peaceful Glenview, Ohio, and the movie continually jumps haphazardly from one plot element to another. Although aliens taking over the world seems pretty important, The Watch wastes time on undercooked subplots about Evan reconnecting with his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt) and hyperactive fellow watch member Bob (Vince Vaughn) disciplining his teenage daughter.

Directed by The Lonely Island’s Akiva Schaffer and written bySuperbad’s Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (along with Jared Stern), The Watch finds talented creators coasting on mediocre storytelling and lazy jokes. Stiller and Vaughn give typically one-note performances (Vaughn yells virtually every one of his lines), and British comedian Richard Ayoade is wasted in a supporting role as the watch’s least important member (Jonah Hill rounds out the quartet). Originally conceived as a family-friendly comedy before being retooled for an R rating, The Watch piles on the shrill vulgarity but sticks with its toothless emotional lessons, leaving it with the worst of both worlds

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