Watching the Detectives - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Watching the Detectives Reviews

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½ December 23, 2016
Watching the Detectives is a rom-com that lacks romance and comedy.
July 30, 2014
Cillian Murphy was amazing, Lucy Liu and the plot, however, was a bit off. It's quirky and fun to watch, though, for lunch.
May 23, 2014
Neil (Cillian Murphy), a self proclaimed film geek and owner of Gumshoe video, a store specializing in B-movies and other hard to find titles, has always been content to live vicariously through his favourite films noir. His life consists more or less of watching movies and bickering about film trivia with his friends/employees Jonathan (Jason Sudeikis) and Lucien (Michael Panes). And when he plays a prank on his girlfriend Denise, she tells him he needs to get his life together instead of just watching movies and playing immature games. He casually breaks up with her, telling her she is not enough like Katharine Ross in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The break up doesnīt effect Niel that much, but when he meets Violet (Lucy Liu), a real-life femme fatale, his mundane world gets really turned upside down and the line between reality and the movies quickly begins to blur. Will Neil step up and embrace a life full of adventure or retreat back to his comfortable couch?...

"Watching the Detectives" is an ok romantic comedy with a touch of "High Fidelity", but with a focus on movies. Cillian Murphy shows a bit range in his acting here and the same goes for Lucy Liu. The storyline of falling for someone who sweeps in literally like a storm, is something I can truly relate to. However, the "tests" and pranks headfuck Violet puts Neil through is not ok from any point of view. That sort of games would have made me tell Violet to fuck off mildly put it. I wouldnīt have accepted that sort of behaviour, meaning itīs hard to believe that Neil actually would take all that crap and still stay with Violet. The character has such an unbalanced way of being and with a selfishness bigger than the Empire State Building. Then again love is blind...
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ April 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
½ May 22, 2013
Worth watching for Cillian and Lucy. But imagine my shock when I learned this was not filmed in the 90s!
May 21, 2013
Good lord!! I wanted to beat the crap out of Lucy Lui!! I "almost" felt sorry for the crap we put guys through - and then I remembered I'm not quite as merciless as she - no pity!! :D
Super Reviewer
May 2, 2013
A romance for movie nerds, and a very likeable one at that.
April 23, 2013
This film was actually pretty good. I'd never heard it before and just found it browsing love film so I didn't have high expectations for it, I thought it would be corny. But it was actually so much better than I expected. I was quite surprised at how well Lucy Lui was in this type of role too. Cute and quirky film.
January 21, 2013
really funny, I was laughing so hard I almost turn blue.
December 22, 2012
I loved seeing Cillian in this "real person" character. I thought this movie was cute and funny and I was just as gullable as he was. very fun.
October 31, 2012
The title is awesome and so is the Costello-song it is taken from, and Cillian usually puts on a great performance.
July 8, 2012
Devilishly cute. The movie never tries to be more then what it is. Which is just a quirky love story done in the molds of 90's independent films. Movie lovers will love and maybe not to many more. Lucy Liu was remarkably fresh, while Cillian was notably not notable. The Crying baseball scene was pure quirky genius.
½ July 5, 2012
Great actors in the wrongest places
½ June 29, 2012
Cillian and Lucy are great in this film, I enjoyed it!:)
½ June 2, 2012
not murphy's best performance..lucy did her thing and it worked..but srry've been better.
½ May 1, 2012
A really tired plot, generic characters (repressed nerd and wacky trouble girl) and constant twists that are too weakly executed to surprise... and yet the damn movie references 3 of my all time favorite movies in the first 20minutes.

So i kept watching and actually enjoyed the movie despite so really poorly executed turns and messy dialogue. The constant movie references of the opening sadly dried up (or went mostly over my head later) as did the fun side characters who are reduced to feeder lines and background. Cillian predictably shines through the mess and Liu predictably struggles to be be convincing dangerous.
April 1, 2012
This movie was directed and written by Paul Soter, one of the crazy minds of the Broken Lizard clan, who brought us Super Troopers and Beerfest. Right now you can only rent it from Blockbuster. The story is about a guy Neil who runs a small rental shop, and loves his detective movies, and movies in general. Then he meets Violet, and she is rather crazy. She shows him action and adventure outside the screen. From breaking into a local big movie rental store, to her talking about her crazy stalker ex-boyfriends. It's a pretty good movie if you get the chance to check it out.
½ March 31, 2012
A cute and clever film about a film geek who falls for the girl of his dreams in the most unusual way...that's it in a nutshell. A good strong cast and a cute story, however I felt they pushed Lucy Liu's character a bit over the edge into "I hate this person" terrirtory. Even with the happy ending, I still dislike her for all the shit she puts this guy through just to relate to him. Cillian is great, as always, and the supporting cast gets pushed back quite a bit, along with backstory or character development, leaving very little to support. However, the film shines at its' geekiness, cuteness and just good wholesome fun. A fun date movie that doesn't really let you down.
March 10, 2012
A good comedy entertainer, and it has nothing to do with Detectives or
investigation sorts of stuffs.
February 27, 2012
Could be good. Right?
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