A Movie A Day #298: Watch It (1993, directed by Tom Flynn)


In Chicago, three men all live in the same house and try to avoid growing up.  Rick (John C. McGinley) and Mike (Jon C. Tenney) are old friends while Danny (Tom Sizemore) works on stolen cars.  When Mike’s estranged cousin, John (Peter Gallagher), moves in with them, John is drawn into a steadily escalating game of pranks.  The game is called “Watch It” and the rules are simple.  No one can take anything personally and each prank must be followed by another, bigger prank.  While the four men takes turns trying to one up each other, they also deal with women who wish that they would all just grow up.  When John starts to date Mike’s ex-girlfriend, Anne (Suzy Amis), the men are forced to come to terms with their extended adolescence.

Watch It is an awkward combination of two stories.  One half of the film deals with the pranks, which get so outlandish that it is impossible to believe that a group of blue collar roommates in Chicago could pull them off.  One of John’s pranks involves imitating a police detective on a local news broadcast and saying that Danny has had a warrant issues for his arrest.  Even if John could pull that off, it seems like he would get in so much trouble that it would not be worth the effort.  (Never mind that the city of Chicago now thinks that Danny is wanted by the police.)  At the same time, Watch It also wants to be a fairly realistic relationship dramedy, with Suzy Amis and Cynthia Stevenson trying to get Gallgher and McGinley to grow up.  Despite some very good performances, Watch It is too uneven to work.  The best thing about Watch It is that it offers a chance to see actors like McGinley, Tenney, Sizemore, and Gallagher all playing quasi-normal, relatable people for once.

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