American superstore Costco gets an iffy amount of brand exposure in this marginally amusing alien-invasion comedy: it provides employment for Ben Stiller’s milquetoast hero and houses a climactic, explosives-heavy showdown between man and extraterrestrial. It’s an apt enough association for a film packaged as pure product, aiming to snare the combined markets for loudmouth comics, sci-fi action and, er, Richard Ayoade – who, however seemingly misplaced, is the freshest thing here.
When a colleague is gruesomely murdered by a slime-trailing killer, Stiller forms a neighbourhood watch force, though fellow members Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Ayoade are more interested in bromantic boozing than keeping the peace. As is the film: the intrusion of a somewhat mangy-looking Third Kind doesn’t distract the script from its strict agenda of dick jokes and casual xenophobia. (Aliens, Latinos and Brits are on an equal footing here.) The laughs are as cheap and cheerful as the effects, but the film’s dim laddishness is troubling: Hill’s sociopathic NRA poster boy is ‘too awesome for the police’, apparently, though he seems a greater danger than the aliens.