The Watch Movie: Trayvon Martin Casts Shadow Over Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller Film

Let’s be honest, the new comedy The Watch will be seen by millions of Americans, and that will be based not on the quality of the film, but on the star power of the leads. If America were ever to name three kings of 21st century comedy, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, and Jonah Hill would be among the top picks on the list.

In The Watch, summer’s newest release, those three powerhouses join rising star Richard Ayoade, in a film that has faced a few significant bumps along its road to release. The flick, about average guys, in an average Midwestern town, who start a neighborhood watch group and find themselves embroiled in an extraterrestrial crisis , had to scrap all of its original marketing tools and even change the original title. The Watch originally titled The Neighborhood Watch first released trailers which made no hints to the alien invasion, and instead portrayed the film as a ride-along with a vigilant group of neighborhood watch members.

In the initial trailers, released in February, the cast is portrayed as a sinister group of patrollers, darkly dressed and on the prowl; at one point Hill even points his fingers as if he’s firing a gun. The release of the teaser unfortunately coincided with the February 26 Trayvon Matin shooting; a cultural turning point which, among many other things, put a permanent stain on neighborhood watch groups around the country. 

20th Century Fox, the company behind The Neighborhood Watch, quickly scrambled to repackage the $50 million film, and thus The Watch was born. The same film, with a new title and new marketing materials, now spun its trailer on the alien invasion, and not the cruisin’ for a bruisin’ neighborhood watchers.

On Friday, the film was finally released but to dismal reviews. Thus far, The Watch has received a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As one reviewer wrote, “It’s called The Watch … but you may want to reconsider.”

As for the film's star Vince Vaughn, his role in the film is being somewhat overshadowed by news that he will be teaming up with his Wedding Crashers partner-in-crime, Owen Wilson, to star in the upcoming comedy The Internship. (Another one-word noun title.) The upcoming comedy will be about two guys downsized from their jobs who start their careers over again as interns.

Here’s hoping for Vaughn, that The Internship fairs better than The Watch