Friday, July 27, 2012

The Watch

Since I only review geek genre movies (like sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc.) it's rare I have a reason to review a comedy. I tend to avoid comedies anyway, since it takes a strange and rare breed of them to really make me produce any noise beyond a mild chuckle. So be aware from the start that you may find any given comedy more funny than I do.

"The Watch" is about a married Costco manager named Evan (Ben Stiller) who has busied his life with all kinds of social activities, but has no meaningful relationships and a marriage lacking crucial communication. When one of his employees is mysteriously murdered, he launches a neighborhood watch to hunt the killer down and prevent further murders.

For all the wrong reasons (mainly because they thought it would be fun, involve beating people up, or lead to sex), he is joined by three other men, each with their own oddities and dysfunctions. Bob (Vince Vaughn) is a father of a teenage daughter whom he is constantly frustrated by. He joins the watch to try and get a "guys night out" now and then. Franklin (Jonah Hill) is a high school dropout who failed the written, physical and mental health exams for the police force, though he claims he was "too awesome for them anyway". And Jamarcus, a friendly, awkward sort of nerd, is possibly the strangest of all, despite his timid nature.

What you may have gathered from the trailers is that the murder suspect, they eventually learn, is an alien. This oddball group of new, dysfunctional friends has to cope with interacting with dangerous alien life and destructive alien technology. The result is a raunchy oddball comedy with a sci-fi backdrop, including some legitimate scares and non-comedic gore.

The jokes, or at least those I thought were intended to be jokes, were more widely spaced than they should have been in the first 45 minutes, though they pick up in frequency in the second half. I found many of them predictable or overstated enough to be spoiled, but I also enjoyed a chuckle every few minutes and almost a handful of "laugh out loud" moments in the last 30 minutes.

I would categorize the humor as being either "post-modern random" or "guys' bathroom/locker room humor" for most of the movie. The nature of the "locker room humor" usually centers on male biology and biological functions, as opposed to being mostly centered on the sexual act. I only mention this because I find for myself that frequent raunchy humor about sexual activity can be harmful to my perspective on sex, while raunchy humor focused only on male biology does not pose a problem for my spiritual life that I'm aware of. If you're in the same camp, and if you like raunchy and random humor, you may enjoy The Watch.

That said, I can only recommend this movie as a rental, when you have the ability to fast-forward.  Although the rest of the movie had no nudity, there is a brief scene (I'd estimate 30-45 seconds) involving a few brief seconds of very explicit nudity and sexuality as well as shallow and worthless sexual activity without nudity for the rest of that 30-45 seconds. If that sounds manageable to you, have at it. Just be forewarned going in to the experience.

I normally don't comment on potentially offensive content, as not everyone is harmed by language, gore, etc. But art intended to stimulate lust is another matter, and so I feel the need to forewarn when a movie has what I consider a significant amount. (At the end of the day, sites like and are much better tools for your "content screening" than my or anyone's subjective memory and reactions. Take advantage of them and use your own discernment.)

What surprised me in a way a comedy hasn't since "The 40-Year Old Virgin", was the strong themes valuing marriage and parenthood. In comedies like this, wives are usually obstacles, but in this movie they are partners and the marriage relationship is highly valued. Bob, despite being alone at home with his daughter much of the time while his wife travels for work, urges Evan to communicate with his wife about an issue that is keeping them apart as Evan remains silent about it. By the end of the movie there are not just one but two loving marriages represented in the story.

Additionally, Bob has no idea how to communicate with his teenage daughter without yelling at her, but by the end of the movie he has the opportunity to stand up for her and protect her, and she finally understands how much her father loves her, despite his difficulty in having a healthy relationship with her.

The Watch is a movie that I would only rarely recommend to someone, due to the potentially offensive or distasteful content, and I can only recommend it with some warning. (When Evan and Jamarcus head down the stairs of the neighbor's basement, just fast forward for two minutes. You won't miss a thing.) Even so, for a select group this movie will have some great laughs and also serve to remind them of the value of marriage and family. (Surprise, surprise!)

Rated R for some strong sexual content including references, pervasive language and violent images (and I would add brief, but strong nudity)

Quality: 7.5/10

Relevance: 8.0/10

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