Film

Alien Armageddon at Costco

The Watch's Big-Box Comedy

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IF THERE'S one thing The Watch does right, it's in setting the beginnings of a global holocaust at Costco. Amid flatscreen TVs and jumbo packs of condoms and gargantuan buckets of Tide, we watch a Costco nightwatchman get devoured by a sinister, pus-dripping creature—and what better place to set such a scene of potent terror than the monstrous, soul-sucking void that is America's largest warehouse club?

But The Watch remains an unsettled mishmash of comedy and space-invaders suspense, and it's just as ambivalent about the targets of its humor. There's a little hint of bite in the script (which Seth Rogen co-wrote), but The Watch's jaws never fully clench down. Vacant-headed, chipper Evan (Ben Stiller) is the Costco manager who assembles a neighborhood watch in the wake of the nightwatchman's death, as the local police sergeant (an always welcome Will Forte) doesn't seem up to the challenge. Evan enlists a jolly bro-dude suburban dad named Bob (Vince Vaughn), a disturbed police academy reject named Franklin (Jonah Hill), and an affable British chap named Jamarcus (The Mighty Boosh's Richard Ayoade). Together this ragtag band of misfits attempts to ward off clichés as they track down the night guard's killer, soon discovering they might have an alien invasion on their hands.

And it's all sort of fine. The Watch has a handful of chuckles here and there, most of which come from either Ayoade's awkwardness or from Vaughn and Hill leaning heavily on their well-established screen personas—they're not acting so much as finding some comfortable ass-grooves on the couch. Stiller doesn't overplay, for once, and director Akiva Schaffer (Lonely Island) is happy to let his movie crouch happily in the shadows of much more successful high-concept comedies like Ghostbusters and Men in Black. Overall, though, The Watch feels like shopping at a big-box store. You get a bunch of Hollywood comedians all in one place, with a bit of sci-fi and action to boot. But despite the value, it's almost entirely devoid of personality and any sort of human touch; The Watch is an anonymous, interchangeable experience.

Related Film

The Watch

Director: Akiva Schaffer

Producer: Shawn Levy, Dan Levine and Monica Levinson

Cast: Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt, Will Forte, Doug Jones, R. Ermey, Nicholas Braun, Joseph Nuñez, Mel Rodriguez, Erin Moriarty, Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone

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