Some movies make you more hopeful than they should, given who’s in charge behind the camera. When a new R-rated comedy comes from director Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod, The Lonely Island), co-written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (The Green Hornet, Pineapple Express, Superbad), and stars a bunch of fully capable (in the right circumstances) comedic geniuses (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade), we expect a lot more than a 98-minute Costco commercial. Sadly, aside from a few laughs that should have rung louder than the finale’s gunfire, it’s about all we really get from the re-titled (originally Neighborhood Watch until the Trayvon Martin shooting) alien invasion comedy, The Watch.
Evan (Stiller) lives a quiet life in Glenview, Ohio, where he’s the general manager of his local Costco. He has a house in the suburbs and the only thing he lives for now is the respect of his neighbors and hopes for the insemination of his wife Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt). When his Costco night security guard, Antonio (Joe Nunez), is skinned alive and all that’s at the scene of the crime is some seminal-textured green goo, Evan takes to the local high school football game to announce he’s starting up a neighborhood watch to find Antonio’s killer.
Evan’s only recruits come in the form of Bob (Vaughn), who sees this as an opportunity to escape from his home duties where he spends his free time keeping an eye on his daughter Chelsea (Erin Moriarty). Franklin (Hill), a high school dropout who can’t pass the police exam and lives with his mother, and Jamarcus (Ayoade), happily divorced and looking for action in the form of scared, single women looking for protection from scary noises. Evan’s three new cohorts start off disastrously with vehicular open-container tickets while staking out Costco and getting egged by a group of teens led by “Skater Kid” (Johnny Pemberton) at the football field. After the ornery old cuss Manfred (R. Lee Ermey) and Skater Kid wind up dead and our ragtag heroes find an orb that blows up anything after being fingered, it’s up to the new neighborhood watch to stop an impending alien invasion.