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Bad Movie Tuesday: The Watch and the 14%

July 31, 2012

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The Watch is not a bad film. The Watch is a generic film. I believe that somewhere amidst all the conversations about genitalia there was a plot. But, the finished product is a combination of improv, Costco promotion and an odd subplot about Ben Stiller’s impotence. There are several laughs to be had but it feels like this is a $70 million runaway train.  The best moments involve Vince Vaughn graciously stuffing Jonah Hill full of pudding and Richard Ayoade’s impeccable line delivery. The film has taken a beating by the critics and is sitting at 14% as I write this.  I understand fully why this film is being critically dogpiled. It is more of the same and it should have been so much more. I’d compare this film to the 2004  Olympic bronze medal winning American basketball team. They had all the talent in the world but lost to more cohesive teams that played with a solid game plan and tenacity. The 2004 team left with a third place finish and much head scratching.  All the talent in the world means nothing if the game plan goes out the window.

The movie revolves around four men who start a Neighborhood Watch after a Costco employee is killed and his skin is stolen. The movie is an excuse to get funny men together and have them pee into beer cans, talk sex  fantasies and take pictures involving the violation of a dead alien.

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Stiller is uptight, Vaughn is Vaughn, Hill is the wildcard and Ayoade is a breath of fresh air. Together they improv constantly and leave you baffled as to how this movie cost $70 million. The improv provides some funny zingers but allows less time for the plot to unfold. It is like they passed the ball around but then they realized the shot clock was running out so they threw up a three pointer from half court and missed.  The improv also keeps the characters from developing. The director Akiva Schaffer said he ended up with 45 minutes of footage for a four sentence scene. That time could have been used to flesh out the plot of add more drama to Ben Stiller’s impotence (Keep reading).

The most bizarre part of the film is not the aliens or huge budget. It is the subplot involving Ben Stiller’s reluctance to tell his lovely wife that he is impotent. He lies to her as she is trying to have a child. Stiller has known about the impotence for 18 months and treats his wife terribly because of it. It is a strange story to be telling in a film about alien invasion. A lot of stuff revolves around the downstairs area. Most of the humor feels lazy when the people involved have starred in Old School, Tropic Thunder, 21 Jump Street, The IT Crowd etc..

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I have no ill will towards this film. I understand why it went bad. Too much money, too much time and too much freedom. Judging from The Watch’s friday gross (4.5 million) the movie should make about $18 million (The movie made less than expected with $14 million). Take off the second week drop of 50% and this movie will have a hard time making its budget back.  I hope these actors learn from this and come out like the 2008 US basketball team and win the gold. There is hope for the future. Stiller is slowly working towards Zoolander 2, Vaughn has reunited with Owen Wilson for The Internship and Jonah Hill is planning a 21 Jump Street sequel.

Watch The Watch……..on Blu Ray

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