"The Watch" hits theaters this weekend, and while the action-comedy boasts plenty of A-list stars (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill), a relative unknown is getting the lion's share of the praise.
Richard Ayoade plays the fourth member of the neighborhood watch intent on saving the planet from an alien invasion (or something). Some may recognize him from his stint on "The IT Crowd," a popular British sitcom. But for most folks, Ayoade is a new face.
Critics seem to dig his work in "The Watch." While the movie is getting so-so reviews, Ayoade himself is earning strong marks.
[Slideshow: Five Film Facts: 'The Watch']
Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune is no fan of the film in general, but he gives credit to Ayoade, "who is the reason it's not entirely lame." Ayoade "brings something fresh," Phillips continues. Richard Corliss of Time writes that audiences are "unlikely to laugh much" but goes on to point to Ayoade as one of the few bright notes in the film.
Keith Phipps of the Onion's AV Club echoes Corliss. Phipps writes, "The brightest spots—and they are bright—come courtesy of... Richard Ayoade. Unfailingly, and often inappropriately, he lends an unpredictable element to the group dynamic, and to the film. It's the sort of performance that ought to be plucked for use in another, better movie."
And the insult/compliments keep on coming. Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer calls Ayoade the movie's "biggest surprise - not that there are many." NPR's Scott Tobias writes, "'The Watch' perks up when Ayoade's spacey line readings give it something unique and unexpected." Tobias calls him "the lone wild card in a movie that gets little spontaneity from its well-fed stars and even less from a screenplay that's slavishly committed to formula."
Finally, USA Today's Claudia Puig gives the movie two out of four stars, but, like so many other critics, she does call out Ayoade as "the biggest scene-stealer, with spot-on comic timing."
So, to summarize: Ayoade? Good. "The Watch"? Meh.