Watching the Detectives

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 32,053
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Movie Info

A film freak has his life turned upside down when he starts dating a real-life femme fatale in this comedy. Neil (Cillian Murphy) is a dyed-in-the-wool movie fan who runs a video store, "Gumshoe Video," specializing in classic film noir and offbeat cult items. Neil spends nearly every evening on the couch, soaking up classic movies from the blue glow of his television; Neil's lack of a social life has not been good for his relationships with women, and his latest girlfriend walked out on him after he declared he wanted her to be more like Katharine Ross in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But then Neil meets Violet (Lucy Liu), a sexy and adventurous woman who is immediately taken with him. However, Neil soon decides Violet may be a bit too adventurous -- while he's content to get his excitement from watching movies, she would rather throw herself into thrilling situations rather than observe them from a distance, and her appetite for danger proves to be far more than he bargained for. Watching the Detectives was the first directorial effort from Paul Soter, who as a member of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe helped write the films Super Troopers and Beerfest.

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Critic Reviews for Watching the Detectives

All Critics (2) | Rotten (2)

  • Even mega-fans of either of the headliners will have trouble muddling through it.

    Aug 22, 2008 | Rating: 2/5
  • It looks like it's back to doling out parking tickets and shotgunning booze for Mr. Soter, and I think Cillian's probably learned a valuable career lesson here as well.

    Dec 18, 2007 | Rating: 2/5

Audience Reviews for Watching the Detectives

  • Apr 14, 2014
    "She is watching the detectives, 'Ooh, he's so cute"; she is watching the detectives when they shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot!" Oh yeah, you can choke on some American pie, Don McClean, because that is real lyrical brilliance right there, my friend. Man, forget Elvis Costello, and forget this film for reminding me of that song, although I might only have myself to blame for that. Yeah, either you have to kind of go out of your way to find a film like this, or you have to stumble upon this film when looking up Elvis Costello's song... or Cillian Murphy, or Lucy Liu, or Jason Sudeikis. Wow, this film actually has some impressive names behind it, yet it ended up going straight to video regardless, and the lazy bums who probably aren't active enough to go to the cinemas who Elvis Costello was singing about still didn't want to go through the trouble of watching this on pay-per-view or whatever. Yeah, see, right there is probably why no one is watching this film, because it's about a guy who works at a video rental store, and by 2007, people were starting to lose interest in actually going to a store to not actually purchase a film, and it doesn't help that this film about video rental stores isn't all that interesting. No, I guess this film is a little more entertaining than the Elvis Costello song of the same name, but limited relevance isn't its only issue. Not unlike plenty of comedies of its nature, this film has a few refreshing ideas, but they're so light that they go lost in the midst of conventions, which thrive and thrive until the final product borders on hopelessly derivative, with its narrative and its humor. I won't say that nothing is original here, because, at the very least, the film tries hard enough for you to get a little taste from those conceptual elements that are kind of offbeat, but at the end of the day, this is by no means new, being unoriginal to the point of being kind of blandly flat. That sense of blandness isn't exactly helped by spots in the film's humor, which is often reasonably effective, and just as often too lacking in uniqueness, if not wit to be all that colorful, with moments in which it truly falls flat, at least as mediocre. Of course, in all fairness, it's kind of hard to have fun with characters who aren't that worthwhile, or at least even, having a couple unlikable traits, in addition to traits that fail to compensate for the distancing ones because of their twisting characterization into a direction that is more jarring than layering, and not even all that convincing. Really, even outside of the characterization, storytelling doesn't always convince, because on top of being unoriginal, this story has a tendency to slip in probability, often getting too carried away with its eccentricities, as surely as it has a tendency to get carried away with ambiguities behind Lucy Liu's intentionally strange Violet character, who leaves the narrative that she drives as the central focus of plotting to lose focus before too long. It gets to be a little challenging to tell where exactly this film is heading, no matter how predictable it is in a lot of ways, and with momentum being further retarded by improbably spots in storytelling and flat spots in humor, the final product ends up falling as a pretty underwhelming, almost mediocre comedy. Yeah, there's nothing special here, but neither is there enough flatness for the final product to bore, entertaining adequately, sometimes through, of all things, lively scoring. Well, whether it be because it's unoriginal or because it's not especially prominent or dynamic, this Ryan Amon's score isn't especially worth talking about, but as far as comedy scores go, Amon turns in more than a few decent and fitting compositions, the highlights of which include noir homages, as well as lively, organ-driven spots that feature some impressive musicianship, while capturing a sense of eccentricity that defines certain aspects of this piece. Of course, the score is perhaps at its most effective when well-utilized by direction by Paul Soter that, despite frantic moments, if not limp moments, has enough nifty plays on style - anchored by some snappy editing by Jeff Canavan - to keep pacing smooth and entertainment value pretty sufficient. Granted, this aimless film doesn't go too many places with its smooth pace, and entertainment value is pretty limited by plenty of other elements, but mediocrity would stand as a greater threat if it wasn't for Soter delivering on plenty of color as directorial storyteller, as well as a writer. Plenty is lacking in Soter's scripting, even in humor, which is a little too lacking in originality and sometimes even a little too lacking in wit, but serviceably enough to keep up some degree of fun more often than anything, with moments in dialogue and set piece structuring that are clever enough to amuse pretty thoroughly. Soter makes his share of mistakes when it comes to handling humor, but through it all, he makes a pretty funny flick, as surely as he makes his share of mistakes when it comes to characterization, until cutting through all of the unlikable, improbable and even uneven traits in order to craft aspects colorful enough to endear you to the characters who drive this fluff piece, but are better sold, not by anything that Soter does, but by the performers themselves. At least carrying a respectable cast, this film is saved by its performers, specifically the leads, whose lack of racial consistency and certain lack of character consistency admittedly shakes chemistry that is still pretty firmly secured by the combination of Cillian Murphy's and Lucy Liu's charismas, both of which are distinguished, and equally effective. Whether it be Liu as the unpredictably eccentric girl looking to live life to the fullest, or Murphy as the reasonably tasteful, but still pretty flawed and strange man with only so much direction in his life, the leads are handed conventional roles that they bring a lot of life to, more so than Soter does as director and writer, which isn't to say that there isn't enough done right on Soter's behalf to make the final product pretty entertaining, despite its questionable elements. In conclusion, conventions, flat spots in humor, unlikable and uneven characterization elements, and some improbability bring the final product to the brink of mediocrity, while generally decent scoring, direction and writing, as well as solid chemistry between and distinguished charisma by Cillian Murphy and Lucy Liu bring enough decency to Paul Soter's "Watching the Detectives" to make an adequately entertaining and clever, if forgettable, eccentric rom-com. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • May 02, 2013
    A romance for movie nerds, and a very likeable one at that.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 17, 2010
    I loved this movie!!! I want may boyfriends to be like Cillian Murphys character!! love love love. I think this is Luci Lus best performance. She is so quirky and fun. There is never a dull moments in this cute and fresh film.
    Morgan S Super Reviewer
  • May 18, 2010
    a entertaining comedic drama, with a great pairing from cillian murthy as neil, and lucy liu asviolet, a strange acting lady he meets while serving her in his struggling video store, neil a film geek proudly running his store competing against the big chaines, lives his life by movies and watching them and not really experiencing life where violet, who doesent really watch tv or indeed rent movies lives her life experiencing what life has to offer, rather than letting movies and tv show how, the two two start a friendship and love blossoms, and its here that neil sees certain weird things about violet, but it could be his pervect match, the two leads give a lot to the script, and is full of nice touches, lots of movie references and little nods help film nicely, and a lot of the film reminded me of high fidelity, but then this goes places, the film runs nicely and again showing cillian murphy is a actr to watch
    scott g Super Reviewer

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