27 July 2012

The Road to a Blockbuster: That Ben Stiller / Jonah Hill Thing

Jeez, it's weird not thinking about Batman for 10 seconds here. It's another Summer Friday, though, even if it is the Friday after The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and that means it's time again for The Road to a Blockbuster - where Norwegian Morning Wood analyses the cultural, critical, and commercial potential for the latest Summer Tentpole Event. Today we see the release of The Watch (2012), which looks like a wildly okay teaming up of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and some other guy.

That's kind of a shame because it seems like the other guy clearly has some of the funniest lines in the film. Anyway, what's a bigger shame is that this film is coming out the week after The Dark Knight Rises, which means that it's going to do shit business. It was a brave move on their part, and the marketing has been somewhat successful in establishing the comic team, but less so establishing the wacky Alien Invasion premise.

What can save this thing is that it actually looks pretty funny. I'm very glad that R-Rated Comedies have been doing so well lately, because this seems like another hard-R effort, at least in terms of massive amounts of fuck words uttered and alien gizmos used on cows in bloody glory. It also seems like a return to form for Vince Vaughn, who is back doing a supporting role instead of inflating the ego that pushed his terrible post-Wedding Crashers (2005) career.

Ben Stiller's been present, but hit or miss lately. Tower Heist (2011) was a fairly mediocre effort, and he's more in Meet the Parents (2000) meek leader Stiller mode than his aggressive Tugg Speedman or insane White Goodman personas. Besides the other guy, the real star of this film could very well be Jonah Hill fresh off the reigning Funniest Movie of the Year. Some of the non sequiturs, though, like yelling at his mother or interrogating the punk kid seem forced and silly instead of based on character, which is kind of a red flag.

Finally, this film is tough to find because searches for "The Watch" result in plenty of wristband timekeepers and less so information, images, or video for the film. That's not really great search engine optimization from the marketing department and I bet that could hurt this flick's chances. I don't know, maybe they'll be okay. Even though TED (2012) came out a month ago it feels like it was sooner than that, and audiences haven't really been starved for comedies the past few weeks.

Still, this thing does look pretty funny, and it's always great to see an actor like Vince Vaughn drop some hard f's. For my part, I'm actually exhausted after the 3-hour emotionally draining journey of The Dark Knight Rises, not to mention the three related posts I committed afterwards. I'm more in a mood for a break, at least until The Campaign (2012) lands on us. This is an afterthought film, something to fill a weekend rather than something anyone desperately needs to see.

We can also talk about the Trayvon Martin shooting, which prompted some changes in this flick's marketing, most notably its move to a more ambiguous title from the earlier Neighborhood Watch. It never works out that a film comes out about shooting shady figures in the night right after one of the most widely spread racial profiling shootings in recent media. It shouldn't really affect the film from here on out, but it's worth a mention to remember what the hell we're actually on this world for - to help and understand our fellow chicks and dudes and, if we have the opportunity, to not shoot them. Will The Watch express this sentiment?

Who cares, it's a movie.

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