THE WATCH (Akiva Schaffer). 98 minutes. Opens Friday (July 27). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
Ben Stiller does his anal retentive routine, Vince Vaughn speed-babbles like a rapper on Red Bull and Jonah Hill plays against type as a mentally unstable misfit. Despite this talented cast, comedy is as rare a sighting in The Watch as UFOs are on Earth.
The trio, along with Richard Ayoade's token black guy, play suburbanites who respond to a local murder by forming a neighbourhood watch patrol. Instead of chasing minorities around the block, they're battling intergalactic invaders.
The few laughs hinge on witty criticisms of race relations and suburbia. But even at its best this movie is eclipsed by Joe Cornish's vastly superior Attack The Block, which explored similar sociopolitical and extraterrestrial terrain.
The choppy, tangential feel here makes you wonder whether some last-minute cuts were made after the Trayvon Martin tragedy, which instigated the title change from Neighborhood Watch.
After all, the last thing you'd want from a studio comedy about white men on a power trip is too much relevance. The Watch would rather turn a blind eye to the more delicate issues, sticking to juvenile antics, an orgy with some SNL alumni and endless banter that only plays the race card when it's a safe bet.