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When neighborhood watching becomes awesome
Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Jonah Hill
Directed by Akiva Schaffer

Faced with the unenviable task of coming on the heels of the biggest movie opening of all time as well as being a reminder of the tragic Trayvon Martin shooting “The Watch” was basically going to rest on the likable charisma of its lead actors. This is the type of R-rated comedy you want to see from Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill and yet the comedy struck me as largely innocuous.

Evan (Ben Stiller) manages a Costco in Glenview, Ohio when a security guard gets violently murdered. Rightly appalled that something like this could happen he launches a neighborhood watch along with three other ne’er-do-wells: they are, Franklin (Jonah Hill), unstable and with his sights set on a career in the police force, Bob (Vince Vaughn), a family guy in want of some male bonding, and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade), a British man hoping the watch will satisfy his long-term porn fantasy. But it doesn’t take long before our watchmen discover that aliens have invaded the earth and are robbing human skin.

All four actors are basically playing types in Seth Rogen’s (along with writing partner Evan Goldberg and Jared Stern) comedy-thriller mash-up script. “Watch” reminded me of Rogen’s “Green Hornet,” in fact: a few chuckle-worthy bits which are ultimately insufficient to make us care much about it.

Director Akiva Shaffer sets a creepy tone and the ending is wild fun, but you can’t do much with a script that’s so tiresomely consumed with penis jokes rather than actual comedy, or alien effects which look completely ripped off from the “Alien” franchise. Think a version of “Men in Black” that seriously lacks in wit.

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