Shawn Levy Talks NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH; Says ‘It’s Hands-Down Top Three Funniest Scripts I’ve Ever Read’

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Director Shawn Levy Real Steel interview slice

The more I hear about Neighborhood Watch, the more I think it’s going to be one of the best films of 2012.  First, it’s being directed by Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod), who makes up one third of The Lonely Island and is very funny.  Second, it’s loaded with an all-star cast made up of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Nicholas Braun.  Finally, the R rated script has been completely rewritten by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express), with producer Shaw Levy telling me at the Real Steel press day, “It’s hands-down top three funniest scripts I’ve ever read.”

Hit the jump for more info and quotes on the project.

For those just hearing about the film, it “concerns a suburban ‘neighborhood watch’ group, which is actually a front for dads to get some male bonding time away from the family. Things go awry when the group accidentally uncovers a plot bent on destroying the world.”

With that kind of synopsis, it’s hard not to think about Ghostbusters.  Which is pretty much what Levy told me:

“I’ve been developing this idea for like three years, it was a PG-13 kind of Ghostbusters-y thing. It didn’t quite get off the ground so we went to Seth and Evan.”

Another thing that excites me about the project is that I’d heard Legacy Effects (Iron Man, The Avengers, Avatar) were building creatures for the film.  Levy also confirmed that:

“They’re just protecting neighborhoods from burglars and stuff, and they uncover some grosser shit than that and that’s why Legacy is involved in building some creatures.”

I’m dying to know what “grosser shit” means.  After what Your Highness got away with in the third act, I can no longer assume anything.  I won’t spoil what McBride wears towards the end of the film, but that sequence alone was worth the price of admission.

For more on the project, here’s what Levy told me.  You can also read the transcript further down the page.  Look for more with Levy soon.

Finally, I recently spoke with Jonah Hill about the film.  He also sounded very excited.  Needless to say, with the level of talent involved, I can’t wait for July 27, 2012 (it’s release date).

Shawn Levy on the set of REAL STEEL_2Shawn Levy: Neighborhood Watch we should do a separate thing on, just because that is shaping up to be the comedy of next year.

Well I saw that Legacy Effects is attached for creature work or some sort of stuff, and I’m thinking, “Well this is not the movie I was expecting,” when you have Legacy Effects doing creature work.

Levy: That’s because Legacy did Real Steel, you’ve seen the robots [in] Real Steel they’re real and they’re fucking awesome. Neighborhood Watch is about this suburban band of brothers, these four dudes: Vince [Vaughn], Ben [Stiller], Jonah [Hill], and this British comedic talent Richard Ayoade who wrote and directed Submarine which was awesome. Great performer, great director, great guy. To throw him in the mix, by the way, I’m really excited about that. It’s like three guys who you think you know who you’re getting, [then] “WHAT?! Richard Ayoade are you fucking kidding?” That was the boldest casting move that we’ve made and I’m thrilled about it. So it’s them four, they think they’re just protecting neighborhoods from burglars and stuff, and they uncover some grosser shit than that and that’s why Legacy is involved in building some creatures.

Shawn Levy and Hugh Jackman on the set of REAL STEELAnd Seth [Rogen] told me that him and Evan [Goldberg] did like an almost page one rewrite?

Levy: They’re still on it. Seth and Evan rewrote Neighborhood Watch. I’ve been developing this idea for like three years, it was a PG-13 kind of Ghostbusters-y thing. It didn’t quite get off the ground so we went to Seth and Evan and I said, “Guys, we need an audacious rethink. Hard R, jackoffs in a basement calling themselves the ‘Neighborhood Watch’, but just fucking dudes getting away from regular life calling themselves a club, and then shit they’re in it. They overhauled the script, they’re still revising it, we shoot in two weeks. It is hands-down top three funniest scripts I’ve ever read, and Jonah Hill went on record recently saying that table read was like a rock concert. We had it a few weeks ago, I’ve never laughed like that at a table read ever. With Akiva [Schaffer] leading the charge, I’m real proud of that one.

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