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Video Reviews

MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Comedy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Cast
Ben Stiller as Evan; Vince Vaughn as Bob; Jonah Hill as Franklin; Richard Ayoade as Jamarcus; Rosemarie DeWitt as Abby; Will Forte as Sgt. Bressman; Erin Moriarty as Chelsea
Director
Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod)
Distributor
20th Century Fox
In Theaters
July 27, 2012
On Video
November 13, 2012
Reviewer
Paul Asay
The Watch

The Watch

Glenview's a nice enough place. Or it was … you know, before the aliens came.

It's a lovely little Ohio town, really—east of Mayberry and north of Normalburg and bursting with manicured lawns, recently painted houses, friendly neighbors, etc. Sure, maybe you'd lock your door at night (this is the 21st century, after all), but you'd more than likely skip the double bolt. And if you drove past a couple of teens loitering on a street corner, you wouldn't immediately assume "drug deal."

But after police find a Costco security guard murdered— stripped of his skin—well, suddenly, Glenview doesn't seem like such an idyllic hamlet after all.

Evan, the Costco manager and a good friend of the deceased, is sick about the death, and even sicker that his beloved town would be so sullied. "Tonight my tears have turned to fists!" He tells a stadium full of people. He announces he's creating a neighborhood watch in the hopes of catching the killer.

Alas, the applicants for Evan's watch are less than impressive. Bob's more concerned with hangin' with the guys (and keeping his teenage daughter in line) than patrolling the 'hood. Franklin, rejected by the Glenview police, hopes that Evan's club (or, as he says, "vigilante squad, militia, whatever") might give him the opportunity to crack a few skulls. And for Jamarcus, the Watch is more an opportunity to fulfill a sexual fantasy or two than apprehend any criminals.

Evan decides he can't be choosy. And the four begin patrolling Glenview, gleefully hoping to catch the killer—or at least have a few laughs.

Then they start seeing green goo pop up here and there, and they find a strange, bowling ball-like weapon. Some of them start wondering whether they should stop watching the streets and turn their attention toward the skies.

Positive Elements

For a film that predicates its comedy on, in part, the murder and mutilation of innocent Ohioans, The Watch gives us some surprisingly positive messages.

Bob, for instance, is more than just a drink-downing, swear-happy fun fiend: He's also a father, and he's concerned that his daughter's getting a little too serious with her beau. Chelsea—the teen in question—naturally thinks her dad's being overprotective. She rolls her eyes when he tells her that "sex is for love." But when her paramour begins forcing himself on her at a party, she's thrilled when her dad busts into the room and rescues her. Sure, their relationship leaves a lot to be desired. Yet it's clear that Bob loves and wants to protect his daughter, and Chelsea—in spite of her behavior sometimes—loves and listens to her dad.

Evan would love to have a teenager to badger one day. But unfortunately he's sterile, and he hasn't found a way to tell Abby, his baby-loving wife, the bad news. Bob encourages his friend to just deal with the issue honestly and openly. And when Evan finally follows Bob's advice, Abby reacts as you'd hope a loving wife would: She's disappointed, but she'd rather they deal with the issue together, as a couple, without any secrets. She hugs him and says, "I want this"—meaning him, his honesty, their relationship—"more than anything." Later we see that the two have adopted a child.

The four "watchers" form some pretty strong bonds—bonds that transcend big differences. And, by the bye, they also [semi-spoiler warning] save the world. Not bad for a quartet of part-time street patrollers.

Sexual Content

The watchers stumble upon a neighborhood orgy. We see participants in various stages of undress (including a few topless women). Some wear S&M-inspired getups; one man is on a leash. Many are obviously engaged in sexual contact. Three men are shown (from the waist up) pleasuring one another. Several battery-powered sex toys are shown.

A video of Chelsea and her boyfriend, Jason, making out in a closet shows up online. Bob sees the guy buy jumbo-sized condoms at Costco. At a party, Jason and Chelsea mimic a sex act before they head upstairs, where we see them kiss and make out on a bed. Chelsea tries to put the brakes on her amorous beau, but he refuses to stop. We watch his hand reach for the hem of her short dress before they're interrupted.

Abby tries to seduce her husband by wearing his Watch jacket over lingerie. She spreads her legs and makes a crude verbal come-on—not realizing that Evan's pals are walking in the door too. Franklin gets an eyeful, and for the rest of the movie he makes whatever excuses he can to smooch (or try to smooch) Evan's wife. Evan and Abby talk about sex frequently (including which rooms in the house they'll have it in). Elsewhere, we hear crude descriptions of masturbation and sexual organs. There are multitudes of vulgar double entendres and raunchy references to sex acts, sexual performance and sexual fluids. Green alien blood is said to have the scent and consistency of semen.

Jamarcus joins the Watch (at least in part) in the hopes of living out a fantasy in which an Asian housewife performs a sex act on him. He gets his wish, sort of. (The contact happens offscreen).

We see girls dressed in bikinis. Evan's male neighbor appears to be attracted to him, complimenting him on his body and skin. Watch members dress an alien corpse in drag and pose for lewd, sexually imitative pictures. Bob also slow dances with the corpse, stroking its rear and pretending to French kiss the thing. The team considers dressing Franklin up like a girl to get information out of an old man. (They're all willing to take the risk of Franklin being sodomized for his efforts.) Evan massages another man's rear (to loosen him up for a run).

The aliens' brains are literally located in their sexual organs, making their nether regions the most vulnerable part of their bodies. Several are shot in the crotch and one has his genitals ripped off by hand.

Violent Content

The Costco guard is dispatched in a splatter of blood. Another victim is found with his chest ripped open and hollowed out. An alien kills a man by thrusting his talon-heavy hand and arm through the human's back and chest, so forcefully that the appendage protrudes out the front. A policeman's chest is shredded (though the officer survives the attack). Humans are thrown around like rag dolls.

One alien is shot about 30 times—the resulting corpse receiving several slugs to the head and midsection well after its expiration. Several others die after being shot in the groin. Evan accidentally hits an alien with his car, and he finds pieces of the extraterrestrial wedged in the grill. (Not knowing what the meat might be, Watchers speculate that it's part of an octopus.) Many, many aliens bleed green goop everywhere. One cuts open his own hand.

The Watchers discover an otherworldly weapon that vaporizes anything in its beam. They realize the weapon's power accidentally, when they obliterate a cow. Then they proceed to use the weapon on tractors, shacks, bales of hay and large retail stores. A man threatens the Watch with a shotgun. Teens pelt them with eggs. (Evan tackles one when he tries to run away.) Franklin carries a butterfly knife and hides a veritable armory of weapons under his mattress. He chokes someone at a football game. Bob is beaten badly by Chelsea's boyfriend, leaving his face a mess.

Crude or Profane Language

One c-word, about 70 f-words and more than 40 s-words. We also hear "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch," "d‑‑n," "h‑‑‑," "p‑‑‑" and "p‑‑‑y." Add to that quite a lot of explicit rap music playing in the background, so for those who might say, "Well, 70 f-words is OK, but 71 is my limit," be warned.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The Costco guard drinks vodka, smokes a joint and raids his store's pharmacy for pills before he's attacked and killed. The four members of the Watch drink beer frequently—including in a minivan. (They're ticketed for having open containers of alcohol in the vehicle.) Some folks drink wine. Franklin admits to carrying a bag of marijuana. Teens are shown drinking at a party, and when Bob barges in, he speculates on the various things the youth might be using.

Other Negative Elements

Chelsea yells and curses at her dad, and Bob yells and curses right back. Franklin hollers at and berates his mother (though he apologizes afterwards, explaining that he was just trying to impress his friends). Bob urinates in a can, describing what he feels and how it's going in incredibly graphic detail. Franklin gets a face full of alien saliva.

Conclusion

The Watch features an impressive cast of comedic actors, so it's a given that audiences will find moments of humor and heart here.

But.

Those moments are pretty rare, really—and certainly don't come close to making up for everything else we're asked to see and hear and contemplate. As someone said leaving the screening I attended, "That was just plain wrong."

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