The Sitter: Not Worth Hiring For A Night

The Sitter would be a shocking and hilarious movie to someone who has never seen a single movie before. Instead, I sat in the theater contemplating a number of other things: what was Sam Rockwell’s pay check for playing the gay coked-out villain who wears nothing but a boxer’s groin protector? Can I move to the world of this film, in which dweebish fat white guys are found to be cool by all black people and found to be sexually attractive by hot women? What adoption agency do you use to request an El Salvadorian explosives expert? Will David Gordon Green ever make a movie as good as All The Real Girls or will he remain a hack? Most importantly, will any comedy that advertises itself as “dirty” be funny ever again?

Noah (Jonah Hill, in his last portly role) is a slug of a human being: he got kicked out of college, has multiple arrests on his record, lives at home with his mom (Jessica Hecht), and has no means of making money. Seems like the perfect candidate for a babysitting job! He accepts a babysitting gig so his divorced mom can go on a date. He meets Slater (Max Records from Where The Wild Things Are), Blithe (Landry Bender), and the recently adopted Ronrigo (Kevin Hernandez). Slater is in therapy four times a week for anxiety, Blithe is obsessed with young starlets and celebrities, and Ronrigo… he likes explosions. When Noah’s girlfriend (Ari Graynor) tells him she’ll have sex with him if he brings cocaine to her at a party. Noah throws the kids into the family minivan, buys some cocaine from Carl (Sam Rockwell), and after a series of unfortunate events, finds himself running from the drug dealers while teaching the children valuable life lessons.

As someone who has never once disliked Jonah Hill in a film, I found myself wondering how in the world Noah was so loved by everyone. His mother shrugs off his loafing, his girlfriend calls him nice and sweet even though all he focuses on is sex, the woman who hires him to babysit doesn’t see through his phony behavior… there are a number of moments in which someone sees Noah has brought children where they don’t belong, then smile and call him “crazy” before moving on. At one point he gets punched in the face by someone who has reason to be angry at him, but when he stands back up, smiles and says “You’re alright, man,” for no reason other than the plot dictates it to be so. Hill is fine in the role (although he looks well past the age where he can play anyone close to collegiate), but he doesn’t have that type of charm that would make me believe you could get away with all of this madness in a non-cartoonish world.

Some of the film is cartoonish, however, which is part of the problem. The movie will transition from a scene with roller-skating lisping coked-out New York homosexuals to a serious discussion about how there’s nothing wrong with being gay. As a result, neither work. It’s as if the film can’t decide if it wants to be wacky or realistic, and the mixture just ends up somewhat depressing. I think I laughed at one or two line deliveries a piece from the kids (who all give good child performances), but only the throwaway gags. R-rated child rebellion is potentially the most tired means of attempting to get a laugh in cinema today. David Gordon Green was responsible for the abysmal hack job Your Highness earlier this year, and I suppose I should take comfort with the fact that this film at least looks more like his earlier films and feels somewhat humbler in nature, but it’s a miscalculation in tone, utterly unoriginal, and worst of all, not funny. If you want good Jonah Hill comedy, rent Superbad. If you want good David Gordon Green work, rent the brilliant All The Real Girls. Both of those films will look after you more effectively than The Sitter.

~ by russellhainline on December 10, 2011.

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