Four everyday suburban guys - Evan (Ben Stiller), Bob (Vince Vaughn), Franklin (Jonah Hill) and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) - come together to form a neighbourhood watch team, primarily as an excuse to escape their humdrum lives one night a week. But when they accidentally discover that their suburb has been secretly overrun by aliens inside ordinary human suburbanites, they have no choice but to save their neighborhood - and the planet - from total extermination.
Review by Louise Keller:
Bursting with penis jokes, this low-laugh, low-brow comedy hovers somewhere between mash-up and alien mush. Most disappointing is the fact that its talented cast is wasted on the mostly lame material that fires in spits and starts; a bit like a pizza oven with a faulty exhaust.
The film's premise of aliens lurking behind bushes is much funnier than its execution which feels like a series of skits strung together by the goodwill of its likeable cast. Of course there is nothing wrong with its central theme of friendship, but it's not funny enough, not clever enough or wacky enough to seduce us. Magnum size condoms do not necessarily mean magnum size laughs.
The big joke relies on the notion that the aliens with oodles of green slime are planning their world take-over from the one-stop-shop supermarket in Glenview, Ohio, run by the ever-serious Evan (Ben Stiller). The four locals who join forces as the neighbourhood watch group are a disparate group, each with different motives.
Bob (Vince Vaughn) is having teenage daughter issues and thinks it is an ideal opportunity to drink ... and have another drink. Franklin (Jonah Hill) is a mother's boy with image issues, while Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) has sexual fantasies involving an Asian housewife. There's an easy camaraderie between the four and most of the time, it feels as though they are just fooling around on their own time.
One of the funniest scenes involves the guys having photographs taken with the alien in different poses; there is something quite unnerving about watching Vaughn dancing with an alien, hand provocatively on its bottom.
Then there's the embarrassing moment when Evan arrives home with his pals, having totally forgotten he had arranged a romantic rendezvous with his wife Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) who is waiting for him in sexy lingerie. There are also funny moments involving Evan's ultra gay neighbour (Billy Crudup), the local cop (Will Forte), Bob's out-of-control daughter (Erin Moriaty) and her supposedly well-endowed boyfriend (Nicholas Braun).
But it all sounds funnier than it is. Much of the film is a yawn a minute with plenty of low-points with most of the humour failing the joke-metre. The young male target market will probably enjoy it, though, together with mates and a beer or two or three.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Four likeable guys and fine screen actors make a meal of this loony, gross-out sci-fi comedy, but you wonder if it isn't time for them to leave behind juvenile alley. Maybe they don't think so. Anyway, the screenplay is full of penis gags (pay attention, there is a penis plot point), gross gags and bad taste gags - until we almost gag.
The scenario is an excuse to overdo everything: aliens have parked their giant gizmo under the Costco in middle class Glenhaven - because it really does have everything under one roof, from power to provisions. In the dead of night they take their human targets and use the skin to hide. Nobody even bothers to remark that their physical shape is totally unlike ours and more like that bitch in Alien; hell, don't be pedantic Andrew.
Evan (Ben Stiller) is the serious one who manages the Costco store and his newly Americanised Latino friend who works the security night shift has been murdered, his grisly remains splattered on the floor. An angry Evan sets up a neighbourhood watch squad - but only gets three others to join. Jonah Hill and Vince Vaughn bring their diverse and entertaining comedic bag of tricks and Richard Aoyade is a standout as the bespectacled Englishman with a secret, whose quietly spoken manner is also a comedic tool.
In the meantime, Evan and his wife (Rosemarie DeWitt, lovely) continue to try making a baby, but there is a reason why they can't which provides the film's one attempt at a serious message - about talking problems through with your partner. Well done, since the target market probably needs to hear that.
Message delivered, it's back to slapstick and schtick. They say youth is wasted on the young; well in this case, talent is wasted on the movie. Still, there are millions who'll love it.
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WATCH, THE (MA15+)
CAST: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt, Will Forte, Mel Rodriguez, Doug Jones, Erin Moriarty
PRODUCER: Shawn Levy, Tom McNulty
DIRECTOR: Akiva Schaffer
SCRIPT: Jared Stern, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Peterson
EDITOR: Dean Zimmerman
MUSIC: Christophe Beck
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Doug J. Meerdink
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 13, 2012