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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Was Fox right to change the title of the upcoming film Neighborhood Watch?

The Watch Jonah Hill Ben Stiller Richard Ayoade Vince Vaughn

Back in March, Fox pulled a trailer and posters for its upcoming release Neighborhood Watch from Florida theaters in the wake of self-appointed neighborhood watcher George Zimmerman shooting and killing Trayvon Martin in that state. But now, Fox has gone whole hog and changed the name of the film for its release to simply The Watch. From CBS News:

“As the subject matter of this alien invasion comedy bears no relation whatsoever to the recent tragic events in Florida, the studio altered the title to avoid any accidental or unintended misimpression that it might,” the studio said in a statement.

Written by Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg and directed by Akiva Schaffer, the movie follows suburban dads (Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn) who foil an alien plot for a takeover of Earth. It is scheduled to open at the end of July.

It seems to me that it’s precisely because the film has nothing to do with the case that there was no reason to change the title. A neighborhood watch is, after all, something that is familiar to people all over the U.S. (and the U.K., too), and the idea that such a mundane group might be the one to foil an alien invasion surely is part of the movie’s humor. (I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt that it’ll actually be funny.) So while pulling the trailer and posters in the immediate vicinity of the Martin shooting seemed like a wise move, this seems to me like an overreaction on Fox’s part.

What do you think? Was Fox right to change the title of the upcoming film Neighborhood Watch?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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