‘The Watch’ struggles for laughs, while the cast cracks itself up

Ayoade, Stiller, Vaughn and Hill in ‘The Watch.’ Rated R, 101 min. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 2012.

The one-note, one-joke tone of “The Watch” gets old as you realize that the actors are having more fun ad-libbing than the audience is having watching. Boring good guy Evan (Ben Stiller) starts a neighborhood watch group when strange things start happening at the Costco he manages. Soon his hapless vigilante gang of misfits includes beer-loving Bob (Vince Vaughn, still playing the enthusiastic frat guy), police academy-reject Franklin (Jonah Hill) and the British Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade).

Instead of solving any crime, they stumble upon an alien invasion, and deal with it mostly by making sick jokes and shouting profanities. Two of the co-writers are Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who fall back on the same sex-obsessed gags and stoner humor from their previous writing efforts, “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express.”

Rosemarie DeWitt is added in as Stiller’s wife for an unnecessary pregnancy subplot. In a movie this bizarre, it’s hard to take anything romantic or sober seriously. There’s just nothing at stake.

“The Watch” made a great two-minute trailer, but the film is both exactly what you are expecting, and not quite what you are hoping for.

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