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When a group of suburban dads form a neighborhood watch group, their day-to-day routines are spiced up a little more than they expected. In the front of the group is Even, played by Ben Stiller. Evan’s polar opposite is Vince Vaughn’s Bob, who is the id to Evan’s superego, the yang to his yin, and, says Schaffer, “a fun loving family man – to the max.” For Bob, The Watch is his fraternal Shangri-La – an escape from the everyday responsibilities of family life. The Watch means hanging with his new friends; enjoying some titty magazines, dirty jokes, and beers; and saying things like, “We’re gonna tear up shit, boys.”
“Bob is longing to hang out with the guys, have some drinks, talk about guy stuff, and let off some steam,” says Vaughn. And ground zero for all the raucous fun is Bob’s tricked-out garage/man-cave and its wet bar, massage chairs, widescreen TV, and pool table.
“Bob is a big Teddy bear of a guy,” says producer Shawn Levy, who is currently directing Vaughn, along with Owen Wilson, in the comedy ‘The Internship’. “He’s boisterous and gregarious and in The Watch as much for the bromance as for the responsibilities of ensuring his neighbors’ safety.”
Still, the responsibilities of family do weigh heavily on Bob, who loves his wife and teenage daughter; the latter’s blossoming attributes are capturing the attentions of the opposite sex, and dad is not happy about it. “She’s growing up faster than Bob would like, so he’s trying to keep her under lockdown,” says Vaughn.
The youngest member of the team is Franklin (Jonah Hill), a twenty-something, militant looking tough guy with, notes director Akiva Schaffer “a sweetness just underneath.” (He still lives at home with his mom.) Franklin has a planet-size chip on his shoulder because he’s been rejected as a candidate for the police force and all other law enforcement organizations. (Failing every entrance exam didn’t help.) So for Franklin, The Watch is the only way he can legally kick ass and take names. “Franklin is alienated from, well everything,” says Hill. “He’s very strange and very funny.”
Coming off his Oscar-nominated performance in the drama ‘Moneyball’, and executive producing and starring in the critically-hailed hit ‘21 Jump Street’, Hill was not looking to return to the kind of raucous comedy that had propelled him to superstardom (like ‘Superbad’ and ‘Pineapple Express’), but he “couldn’t resist the chance to perform opposite alongside Ben, Vince and Richard,” notes the actor. “It was something I had to do.” Moreover, “if I was going to do another broad comedy, I wanted it to have no basis in reality, and portray a character that could say or do anything. Plus, anytime you put an extreme amount of danger in the hands of irresponsible people, you know the results are going to be really wild.”
Rounding out the quartet is Jamarcus, newly divorced and perpetually hungry for love, and who eagerly embraces The Watch’s off-kilter camaraderie. “Jamarcus feels that The Watch is an opportunity to burst out of his shell,” says Richard Ayoade, who is also a noted filmmaker, having written and directed the acclaimed British film ‘Submarine’. Adds Schaffer: “He’s just looking to get out of the house and meet some ladies – and have sex with them.”
On the surface, Jamarcus is kind of an odd duck (and that’s saying a lot in this group), but he may prove to be a secret weapon in the looming battle against the forces threatening the neighborhood. Levy says it was Ayoade’s “idiosyncratic energy” that made him perfect for the role. “He’s wildly inventive and completely strange in the best possible way. You never know what you’re going to get next with Richard.”
“Richard is the one the audience isn’t expecting, so he can sucker-punch them…with lovable jokes,” Schaffer concurs.