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The only things more dangerous than the threat facing the good citizens of suburban Glenview, are the four guys who’ve come together to save them. Meet the Neighborhood Watch: civic-minded Evan (Ben Stiller), fun-loving family guy Bob (Vince Vaughn), tough-talking “wild card” Franklin (Jonah Hill) and the looking-for-love divorcé Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade).
This is the premise of the new comedy ‘The Watch’. In this seemingly serene enclave and safe haven, Evan Bob, Franklin and Jamarcus have decided to join forces to safeguard their community. In addition, they’re enjoying some of the perks that come with being a “Watcher”… like drinking beer, shooting the shit, and just being guys.
Even with – or maybe because of – their spiffy new “Watch” jackets, which are emblazoned with fiery wings and a tiger head (don’t ask), the not-so-fearsome foursome initially gets no respect from the residents they’re supposedly looking out for. A group of kids plaster them with eggs, and the local cops think they’re a joke: the Hardy Boys…only far less savvy.
But when the guys’ patrol vehicle hits something that leaves behind a trail of green goo and a tentacle of some sort, and they find a strange, bowling ball-like device that emits a concentrated beam of energy – they realize that their little group has stumbled onto something bigger than a prowler on the loose.
“When they formed this ‘band of brothers’, the guys thought, sure, they might encounter some weird neighborhood stuff – maybe a burglar here, or peeping tom there – but suddenly they realize they’ve facing something extraordinary,” says producer Shawn Levy, the director of such hits as ‘Night at the Museum’ and ‘Real Steel.’ “And ‘The Watch’ is not just unprepared or unqualified, it’s not remotely equipped to deal with this problem; yet it’s all on them to stop it.”
To play the four members of ‘The Watch,’ Levy and director Akiva Schaffer (a creative force on several famed “Saturday Night Live” short films) tapped three comedy icons and a fast-rising talent. “We wanted the best,” says Levy,” and so we went out and got the best – three titans …together in the same movie! And then we threw in the ‘grenade’ of ‘what the hell are you going to get with Richard Ayoade?’”
Ben Stiller’s Evan is a senior manager at the superstore Costco, having made a not-so-lightning-fast ascent to that position from assistant manager. Evan is a dedicated employee, but his heart is with the Glenview Neighborhood Watch, of which he is the founder and CEO.
Evan’s latest endeavor fits nicely within his wheelhouse of facilitating civic-minded endeavors; he’s also organized the Glenview Running Club, Recycling Team, and even a Spanish table at the community center. “Evan is very community-oriented,” says Stiller, “because he has so few friends, and these clubs give him the opportunity to meet new people.” Adds Akiva Schaffer: “Evan is a Good Samaritan, a perfectionist, and a control freak – but in a good way.”
Evan’s straight-laced, buttoned-down personality is a perfect fit for organizing clubs, but it’s not paying off socially. Stiller says he found it challenging to figure out the mindset of a man whose life is defined by a relentless pursuit of order. “I’m not very orderly,” explains the actor, who is currently starring in and directing ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’. “It wasn’t easy getting inside the mind of a meticulous, stoic and organized guy.”
Regarding the role’s more physical requirements, Stiller was comfortable with the fight scenes, where The Watch takes on the would-be conquerors from a distant world, but less so with a scene that required him to drive a forklift during a climactic battle. “There was lots of action captured on camera, but driving the forklift made for some of the most frightening times on the set – for the crew,” says the actor.