There's only one problem with “The Watch,” a comedy about guys who form a neighborhood watch, only to discover there are aliens in their midst.
It's not very funny.
In fact, I sat through all 102 minutes of the movie in a laugh drought.
Of course, comedy is not entirely predictable, and what trips one person's laugh trigger may have no effect on another.
But there wasn't much in this R-rated comedy that looked like it was going to translate into howls for just about any demographic I could think of.
What laughs “The Watch” is likely to get are probably going to come from creative (or at least abundant) profanity, graphic sexual banter and a running joke about condoms and the male anatomy.
That may sound like your typical gross-out comedy, but trust me, this isn't. In fact, it's pretty bland by comparison, even with explosions and digitally created aliens to distract you.
Stiller plays Evan, the buttoned down manager of the Costco superstore in sleepy Glenview, Ohio. He and the wife are having trouble conceiving a child (a topic that turns out not to be funny at all), so Evan forms all kinds of clubs to fill his life and to provide excuses to avoid his wife's demands for sex.
When the night watchman at Costco turns up murdered, his body left skinless, Evan has no faith in the police investigator (Will Forte) and vows to find the killer by forming a neighborhood watch.
His recruitment meeting draws only a bored and lonely dad (Vince Vaughn) who has a flirty teen daughter (Erin Moriarty), a police-academy reject (Jonah Hill) who still lives with his mother, and a rather strange Englishman (Richard Ayoade) who isn't as straight-arrow as he looks.
Evan is disappointed the other guys seem more interested in bonding over booze and talking dirty than finding the killer.
Eventually, though, they run across a strange metallic orb that has the power to blow things up, and then something scary rustles a bush. Better not say more, as this movie needs all the excitement and suspense it can find to make up for the snoozer jokes.
The movie is filled with what feels like a lot of unscripted, improvised guy talk, but nobody here is as good at ad libs as, say, Robin Williams on a slow day. The central conflict is control issues between Vaughn's character and uptight Evan.
Rosemarie DeWitt is charming (but not funny) as Evan's frustrated wife, and Billy Crudup has a cameo as a mysterious neighbor who creeps Evan out with a rather strange invitation delivered with a leer. Nicholas Braun plays Moriarty's oversexed boyfriend, and he's not funny either.
A crucial plot turn at the end still has me scratching my head to make sense of it, since it requires one character's complete change of heart with flimsy motivation.
Not that it matters. “The Watch” has bigger problems than holes in the plot.
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