The aliens are coming, the authorities don't believe it, and it's up to a ragtag bunch of amateur heroes to save the day! While this may sound like a children's action movie, it's more one with grown adolescents in The Watch. This movie has big star power but doesn't add much original to the very overdone formula.

Evan (Ben Stiller) is the ultimate fan of his suburban town of Glenville, Ohio. He manages the local Costco store, loves forming assorted groups in the town, and doesn't share the enthusiasm his spouse Abby (Rosemarie Dewitt) has for New York City. When Costco security guard Antonio Guzman (Joe Nunez) is brutally murdered at the store after it closed, Evan feels the local police (Will Forte and Mel Rodriguez) aren't doing enough to find the killer -- or worse, suspect Evan. So Evan does what he thinks he does best: form a new group, this time a neighborhood watch.

The response to Evan's call to arms doesn't get the best applicants. Bob (Vince Vaughn) is more enthusiastic about drinking and having a good time than fighting crime; he's also obsessed with his teenage daughter's social life. Franklin (Jonah Hill) is a young adult who was rejected by the police force and who tends to play with a knife. And Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) is a cheerful Brit who joined the group with a specific erotic fantasy in mind. The police mock them, teenagers throw eggs at them, and the guys seem to party more than stop crime.

Oh, and there are aliens. A car crash has the guys finding green goo, and then they find a metal sphere that shoots destructive beams of energy. It's not long before deadly humanoid aliens start popping up; and when one says they've infiltrated humanity, the Neighborhood Watch starts, well, watching the neighborhood. Is Evan's creepy, overly friendly neighbor an alien? What about the obnoxious teen dating Bob's daughter? Or the various weirdos at Costco?

There's a lot of potential humor about life in the suburbs and how aliens would fit in there -- and all of that is completely skipped in The Watch. Stars Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill play the same sort of characters they always play; Ayoade is terrific, but he gets much less screen time than his American counterparts. The humor tends to go for "ironic" slow-motion scenes set to rap music, lots of profanity, and (near the end) action movie heroics. There are several gaps in logic near the end, but in this sort of movie there's no attempt (or, really, need) to resolve them. There are some laughs among the stars, but The Watch settles for strictly superficial humor.

Overall grade: C

Reviewed by James Lynch

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