Marketing for 20th Century Fox's upcoming Summer comedy ensemble release, The Watch (formerly known as Neighborhood Watch) started off awkwardly, with a teaser trailer that went out of its way to not reveal the film's true identity: a sci-fi/alien invasion flick that reads on paper as Men in Black meets The 'Burbs.
Things only got worse from there, as the Trayvon Martin shooting suddenly made the idea of a laughfest - where a pack of mostly middle-aged, male suburbanites (played by Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade) use excessive force in the name of keeping the neighborhood safe, seem extremely insensitive and ill-timed.
Fox clearly recognized this; hence, the change-up in title and mad scramble (on the studio's part) to completely turnaround the manner in which this flick is sold to the moviegoing masses.
As a result, we've ended up getting a red band trailer for The Watch that's instead all about playing up the film as a wacky raunch-com-meets-sci-fi adventure - wherein, a group of foul-mouthed, but lovable, adult men are out to save their families, friends and neighbors from a covert extraterrestrial threat. That is, when they're not worrying about relatable things, like warding off their daughters' would-be boyfriends.
The naughty jokes and sight gags - coupled with the strange mishmash of genre elements - featured in this new footage from The Watch bear the signature of screenwriting duo Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express, Green Hornet). Similarly, director Akiva Schaffer looks to keep the jokes flying fast, much like he did during his days working on SNL (and feature-length helming debut, Hot Rod).
Once you adjust to the sharp contrast in the film's new marketing, though, The Watch seems like a pretty standard R-Rated comedy in the vein of just about every movie featuring guys like Hill and Vaughn - with the "high concept" being aliens, this time.
That may help the film shake off its bad publicity, but it doesn't guarantee the eventual box office returns will be any better than originally predicted (prior to the controversy).
We will see how it all turns out when The Watch begins a theatrical release in the U.S. on July 27th, 2012.