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'Neighborhood Watch' and Trayvon Martin: Ben Stiller and Shawn Levy weigh in

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FIRST LOOK NEIGHBORHOOD
Melinda Sue Gordon

In comedy, timing is everything. And right now, in light of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, it’s hard to imagine worse timing for a comedy called Neighborhood Watch, even if the movie is about four volunteer crime fighters (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, and Richard Ayoade) battling space aliens. Yesterday, Fox pulled posters and the teaser trailer for the film from Florida, where, on Feb. 26, a real-life neighborhood watch captain shot and killed an unarmed African-American teenager, sparking nationwide protests.

“We are very sensitive to what’s going on,” Neighborhood Watch producer Shawn Levy tells EW. “But other than the name of the organization, there is zero overlap between the movie and what’s going on in Florida. It’s very much a comedy that pits regular guys against a non-Earthly foe.” Levy says there have so far been no discussions about whether to postpone the film’s July 27 release, but it sounds like at least one of the stars would prefer the show go on as scheduled. “You’re talking to the guy who had the first comedy out after 9/11,” says Stiller. “We just put Zoolander out there. There were questions about whether it was too early for a comedy, but we couldn’t find a reason why there shouldn’t be a comedy in the world.”

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