Ben Stiller’s ‘Neighborhood Watch’ begins to attract a crowd


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EXCLUSIVE: ‘Neighborhood Watch’ is one of those movies that kicks around Hollywood for a while then gets jolted into action when some big stars take an interest in it.

The story of an urbanite who gets more than he bargains for -- in the form of extraterrestrial activity -- when he moves to the suburbs and joins the neighborhood watch was in development several years ago with Will Ferrell. But the science-fiction comedy got a new lease on life when Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg came on to write a new draft of the script and Ben Stiller decided to take the lead role that Ferrell once occupied.


Now the film, which is set up at 20th Century Fox, is getting another jolt. ‘Tropic Thunder’ and ‘Iron Man 2’ writer Justin Theroux has been brought on to write a new draft, and Fox has met with Vince Vaughn with the aim of bringing the ‘Wedding Crashers’ star aboard, said two people familiar with the project who asked not to be identified because the movie is still in the development phase. [Update, 12:48 p.m.: A person close to the production said that Vaughn is now formally negotiating for the role, which means that if terms of a deal can be worked out, he will indeed star opposite Stiller.]

The Stiller-Vaughn pairing would mark a high-profile comedy reunion. The two played nemeses -- as the underdog Peter La Fleur and the conniving White Goodman -- in 2004’s ‘Dodgeball,’ a movie that took in $115 million at the U.S. box office (a fact doubtless not lost on Fox, which made and released that film too). A Fox spokeswoman did not immediately have a comment.

Apart from Stiller and Vaughn, ‘Neighborhood Watch’ is an opportunity for other comedic actors to strut their stuff, particularly in a time when bigger-budget original comedies aren’t getting made very often.There’s an older black character as well as a young dad role that could be filled by a 20-something white comic actor. Earlier this month, producers brought on Akiva Schaffer, a veteran of ‘Saturday Night Live’ and sketch-comedy group Lonely Island, to direct the movie, which is being produced by ‘Night at the Museum’ diretor Shawn Levy. The movie could potentially shoot as soon as November.

For comedy fans, the film would represent a return for Stiller to a non-sequel comedy -- he hasn’t done one since 2008’s ‘Thunder’ -- and a move away from the romance-flavored comedies that Vaughn has taken to of late.


From the archives: ‘Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story’ movie review

Ben Stiller and ‘Saturday Night Live’ veteran look to team on new comedy

Ben Stiller, Edie Falco in ‘House of Blue Leaves’ on Broadway: What did the critics think?

--Steven Zeitchik and Nicole Sperling