The Watch

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Watch Movie Poster Image
Aliens vs. potty-mouthed, sex-obsessed humans.
  • R
  • 2012
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 16 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Despite a lot of iffy behavior, the movie does have messages about teamwork and learning to communicate. Characters also show courage in the face of danger.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Evan is a responsible, brave member of his community, but he's also uptight and insecure. Happily, he learns to overcome some of these problems by trusting others.


A few human characters are slaughtered in an alien attack. Viewers see huge blood spatters, body parts, and mutilated corpses. There's lots of shooting -- both guns and extraterrestrial laser cannons -- though aliens take most of the hits (they ooze green blood). Also some hand-to-hand fighting (with injuries) and lots of arguing.


One scene takes place at an orgy. At least one woman is shown topless, several characters engage in simulated sex, and three men engage in mutual masturbation (shown from the chest up). A teen girl is shown making out with a teen boy, and they engage in some foreplay; she wants to stop but he insists on continuing -- then they're interrupted. The teen boy buys some large-size condoms. Porn magazines are glimpsed. The main character and his wife are trying to have a baby, and there are a few scenes of kissing and seduction, as well as much discussion about sperm. Sexual innuendo is very strong and constant.


Language is strong and constant, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "c--t," "ass," "a--hole," "c--k," "d--k," "c--ksucker," "goddamn," "hell," "damn," "prick," "vagina," "jizz," "hymen," "balls," and "jackass," plus uses of "oh my God," "Jesus," and "Jesus Christ" (as exclamations). There's some 1980s-era "gangster rap" on the soundtrack that also has strong language (including "motherf--ker").


The main character is a manager of Costco. Many scenes take place inside a Costco store, and the name is mentioned many times. Many other brands are mentioned and shown as well, often more than once, including Coca-Cola, Budweiser beer, Rayovac batteries, Magnum condoms, Bugles snacks, and Tide. Facebook is also shown and mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A minor character celebrates inside a Costco, drinking hard liquor, smoking pot, and popping pills from a pharmacy. The main characters are almost constantly drinking, either beer or Scotch, but are never shown drunk. One of the main characters mentions possessing pot, but this isn't shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Watch is a raunchy sci-fi comedy about four suburban guys (including Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill) who end up taking on an alien invasion. There's some blood and gore, as well as sci-fi shootouts. Expect lots of sexual content, including nudity (toplessness), an orgy scene, implied mutual masturbation, and rampant sexual innuendo. Language is equally strong and constant, with "f--k" and "s--t" both used frequently. Characters drink a lot, and some take drugs. Consumerism is also a big issue, as the movie feels like a huge ad for Costco. The movie made the news in February 2012, when its marketing campaign coincided with a fatal shooting in Florida by a real-life neighborhood watch captain. The movie's marketing and title (formerly Neighborhood Watch) were quickly changed.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 18+-year-old Written byValdoria June 24, 2013

Big Thumbs Down

I really want to ask these men who make these raunchy films how they would feel if they were on a date and someone came up to them and tossed their penis in the... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byBrad Jusqito January 22, 2021


Despite its raunchiness and immaturity at times I thought the movie was okay but not excellent.
Teen, 15 years old Written byNvG Nick January 21, 2016

The Watch Review

A real hidden gem, The Watch combines humor and action into a super funny and action packed adventure. With a great cast and great writing (thanks in part to Se... Continue reading

What's the story?

Evan (Ben Stiller) is the manager of a Costco in a sleepy little Ohio town. After his night watchman is brutally murdered, Evan decides to form a neighborhood watch to find the killer. Loudmouth Bob (Vince Vaughn), police force reject Franklin (Jonah Hill), and oddball Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) sign up. But instead of the normal murder clues, the group instead finds weird tentacles, green goo, and a powerful laser blaster. Before long, they realize that they're up against sinister aliens. Can the foursome set aside their personal troubles long enough to band together and find a way to stop Earth from being taken over?

Is it any good?

Director Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod) doesn't seem to know what to do with this material. THE WATCH lashes out all over the place, trying out gore, rude humor, character development, sexual situations, and product placement by turns. It's as if the filmmakers were more concerned with the MPAA rating than with the audience. As a result, the movie follows in the footsteps of so many other alien invasion movies: It doesn't really work.

Stiller plays his usual uptight schnook here, and the movie spends a great deal of time on a subplot about him and his wife trying to get pregnant; this stuff seems to have been added more to please the actor than to add anything to the story. Likewise, neither Vaughn nor Hill stretches much outside their usual routines, and the only laughs come from lines that sound more like on-the-spot improv than anything written in the screenplay. Sci-fi fans will be the most disappointed: The aliens are the most boring things in the movie.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Watch's violence. What's the effect of showing bloody carnage in a comedy? Does it make the movie funnier? Less funny? How does it compare to the impact of the violence in, for example, horror movies?

  • Why do you think sex is such a big subplot in this movie? In what ways does The Watch talk about sex in a realistic way? In what ways is it simply trying to be shocking?

  • Can these characters be described as "men-children"? Why are so many movies made about these types of characters? Are they believable?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedies and aliens

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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