You'd think that a film written by Stern (the surprisingly witty Mr Popper's Penguins) and Rogen/Goldberg (the hilarious Superbad and Pineapple Express) and starring a reliably funny cast would be a safe bet for a fun night out in the cinema. Well, unless your sense of humour is on par with a 12-year-old boy, guess again. With a sour tone and jokes that have no punchlines, this is a relentlessly unfunny comedy that shifts into an unexciting alien invasion thriller.
Stiller stars as Evan, an overachiever who can't bring himself to tell his loving wife (DeWitt) that he's sterile. When there's a murder in the super-store he manages, he forms a neighbourhood watch group with three losers: Bob (Vaughn) is struggling to cope with his teen daughter, Franklin (Hill) has an unhealthy obsession with guns, and Jemarcus (Ayoade) is a goofy sex addict.
All three would rather drink beer and play stupid games than keep their community safe. But then they discover that the killer was actually an alien who is leading an invasion of Earth.
There's not much fun in watching four grown men chuckling like Beavis and Butt-head over every rude reference to sex or the male anatomy. But this is pretty much the script's only attempt at humour, besides layering in a continual stream of simplistic gay innuendo. There's a sense that the filmmakers wanted to make a present-day Ghostbusters, but this movie never approaches the underlying dry sophistication of that silly classic. There are a few amusing moments in here, thanks to a strong cast that includes Crudup as a suspicious neighbour and Forte as a ridiculous local cop. Although since the lead characters are so idiotic, it's DeWitt who steals the film in her few scenes as Stiller's funny, sexy and feisty wife.
Yes, you know you're in trouble when the most interesting scenes in a sci-fi adventure-comedy involve the sideplots about marriage and parenthood. Once the aliens take over, it's difficult to stay interested. Essentially, this film feels like it was put together by an iPhone app, pasting in random elements that would seemingly guarantee a summer blockbuster. But the plot goes nowhere interesting, as the overwrought special effects swamp all of the characters and leave the story feeling flat and pointless.