Neighborhood Watch, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade

Melinda Sue Gordon/Twentieth Century Fox

Ben Stiller. Jonah Hill. Vince Vaughn. Three actors who've certainly developed a solid reputation for making us laugh.

Put all three together in the same flick and you've got comic gold, right?

But while their new sci-fi laffer, The Watch, doesn't open until Friday, several critics have already weighed in.

So what's the initial verdict?

  • "The Watch might sound fresh: guy-centric goofiness meets sci-fi, with a dash of marital coming-of-age story. But the feature feels like part three of a past-its-prime franchise," writes Sheri Linden of The Hollywood Reporter. "That might be because topliners Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn are playing the guys they always play, or because the script...moves lazily from setup to punchline to setup, with no particular point and almost no punch. It's not likely that a big-screen alien invasion has ever felt less urgent."
  • "You're unlikely to laugh much," notes Time's Richard Corliss. "It's a disservice to its trio of stars, forced to play diminished forms of their best roles. Here, they are the fronts for an exhausted, exhausting reprise of stupid behavior, male-bonding clichés and penis jokes, which extend even to the aliens."
  • "The Watch has lots of energy, but not much inspiration," states Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. "The Watch is aggressively potty-mouthed, reflecting the recent trend in which the dirty talk in comedies focuses on guys talking about one another's willies instead of the private landscapes of women."
  • "A movie that desperately wants to be Ghostbusters -- where funny actors confront supernatural happenings -- but doesn't understand what made Ivan Reitman's classic tick," offers Cinema Blend's Sean O'Connell, adding that "Vaughn retreats right back to the rapid patter and false bravado he first introduced nearly 15 years ago as Trent in Doug Liman's Swingers. Vaughn has become a parody of himself at this point."
  • Like most of the critics, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune notes how The Watch had originally been called Neighborhood Watch, but that the title was changed in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case. "I saw the film. It's unlikely many had Trayvon Martin on their minds as they watched these four [Stiller, Vaughn, Hill and Richard Ayoade] blasting aliens and trading a stunning number of jokes relating to testicles of various species."
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