"The Watch" features a star-studded cast, but British actor Richard Ayoade (second from right) steals the show. Co-star Ayoade helps make "The Watch" worth watching The new R-rated comedy "The Watch" features a star-studded cast both on screen (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Will Forte) and off (co-written by Seth Rogen). It seems ironic then that the film's saving grace is a relatively no-name British comedian who gets fourth billing and has been tucked to the side in most of the movie's publicity. The man's name is Richard Ayoade. He's mainly only starred in British television comedies, including the hilarious "The IT Crowd" and the cult-smash "The Mighty Boosh." However, he's due for more attention after his scene-stealing performance in "The Watch" that helps keep the film matinee-worthy despite itself. Instead of Ayoade, the film follows Ben Stiller as Evan, a small-town do-gooder who minds his time creating and leading various neighborhood clubs and managing the local Costco. His picture-perfect suburban life gets turned upside down, though, when a guard at his store gets murdered. Distraught by the criminal act, Evan creates a neighborhood watch (the original title of the film, but it was changed after the shooting of Trayvon Martin) with the help of Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Ayoade. In between cans of beer and bonding chats, the quartet discovers the murder might be the result of a devious alien plot involving UFOs in disguise as average citizens. The plot sounds like it could have some entertaining suburban satire along the lines of "Hot Fuzz" or "Edward Scissorhands," but the screenplay by Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Jared Stern barely touches on depth. Early in the film, for instance, Stiller notes in voiceover that he has several minority friends and is searching for an African-American to call his pal. There's a witty satirical idea in there about white America's dependency on minority relationships to prove their worldliness and goodness, but it's abandoned almost immediately after the first 10 minutes. "The Watch" is far more interested in watching the four man-children run around Suburbia causing havoc, yelling and partaking in extended sequences of profane, probably improvised banter. Director Akiva Schaffer (most well-known as a writer/director for The Lonely Island, who make a cameo appearance) goes after those goals with an admirably goofy, and eventually contagious, spirit that helps some of the film's jokes hit their mark. Stiller, Vaughn and Hill are all funny enough as well, but their on-screen comedic personas are becoming tired. Stiller is another stiff, easily flustered everyday man, and Vaughn is his usual fast-talking, wisecracking man's man. Hill, despite being a comparatively new comedy star (his breakthrough roles in "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" came only five years ago), has his predictable jokes and quirks as well. It seems like a contractual obligation for Hill to yell at his on-screen mother at least once per movie (if this, "The Sitter" and the far superior "21 Jump Street" are to be believed). They still manage to score some laughs, but their routines feel like exactly that: routine. The script doesn't help in some scenes, providing overlong conversation scenes and predictable set-ups, most notably an extended appearance by Evan's uncomfortably complementary neighbor (Billy Crudup) that results in an underwhelming punch line. Rogen and company also have a habit of finding extreme violence a lot funnier than I do (see the last half of "Pineapple Express"). Perhaps that is why Ayoade's performance feels so enjoyably fresh and lively. He's a new face with a new comedic sense. His dweeby presentation and dryly articulate timing and delivery easily results in "The Watch's" funniest moments. He's unfortunately the main character in a clunky mid-film plot revelation, but that's more the script's problem than Ayoade. For the most part, he is the film's saving grace. And speaking of savings, "The Watch" would like you to know how great Costco is. The product placement in the film is rampant (Michael Bay would be proud). The main characters tout the undying virtues of Costco, as well as its immense selection, on several occasions. It's not enough to ruin one's enjoyment of "The Watch," but it was certainly distracting as I attempted to enjoy the film with my delicious box of Junior Mints and a refreshing Sierra Mist. Permalink Print Talkback Share this: Talkbacks No Talkbacks for this article. Post your comment/review now Facebook comments Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff. Recent Articles & Blogs by OnMilwaukee.com Staff Writers 36 Milwaukee alternative facts Published Jan. 23, 2017 Inspired by the invention of "alternative facts" over the weekend, we created some of our own alternative facts about Milwaukee. Enjoy - and then go back to cheering on the Packers as they prepare to take on the Cleveland Browns in the Super Bowl! Arts @ Large and MPS "Fill the Gaps" in arts education teachers in the district Published Jan. 22, 2017 Deborah Jolitz, MPS fine arts manager, had a problem. In fall 2015, more than 25 schools were in need of arts education services, and there were no certified teacher applicants. So they teamed up with Arts @ Large for Fill the Gaps, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reports. 10 ways to wear Pantone's 2017 color of the year Published Jan. 22, 2017 Each year, the Pantone Color Institute announces a color of the year which will inspire everything from interior design to fashion and makeup trends. Here are 10 ways to wear this year's color of "Greenery." Michael Jackson fans celebrate his legacy at the Riverside with MJ Live Published Jan. 21, 2017 In 2009, the world lost a legend, leaving fans in mourning. However, last night at the Riverside Theater, that legend was alive and well thanks to Las Vegas MJ Live, bringing the spirit of Michael Jackson back to the stage. On Jan. 26, come out to "Shrink-n-Drink" for a cause with Dorsey Levens Published Jan. 17, 2017 On Jan. 26, a group of local sponsors is hosting a personal and passionate event called Shrink-n-Drink in support of Adam Craig, who was paralyzed last year, and to help pay for his medical care. The fundraiser will feature clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Helmrich and former Packer Dorsey Levens. Centro Hispano CEO heads nonprofit in community where she grew up Published Jan. 15, 2017 As a part of an occasional series on nonprofit leaders, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service sat down with Toni Rivera-Joachin, CEO of Centro Hispano, to talk about the organization, what leaders motivate her and her hopes for the future. #WeWant: Packers playoff edition Published Jan. 15, 2017 Our beloved Green Bay Packers are making a run in the playoffs. Here are some things you need to have to cheer them on this and every week. Sports bar guide Published Jan. 14, 2017 You've got your Brewers cap on your head and your Rodgers jersey on your back. What now? Well, other than a Giannis jersey you need to visit one of these sports bars and watch the games on the big screen while you toss back a few cold ones and enjoy some great food. St. Patrick's Day Parade marches into Downtown March 11 Published Jan. 10, 2017 The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade will set off on its march Saturday, March 11, beginning at noon and starting at Wisconsin Ave. and Old World Third St. before winding its way through Downtown. Walls of Strength project aims to instill hope, courage and love in Milwaukee Published Jan. 8, 2017 Walls of Strength aims to combat fear, cynicism and despair by allowing residents to write positive notes into clay stones. The stones, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reports, are then mortared together to create a wall with three segments: hope, love and courage.