Synopsis: A comedy about a college student on suspension who is coaxed into babysitting the kids next door, though he is fully unprepared for the wild night ahead of him.
Release Date: December 9, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
The newest comedy from Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green is The Sitter, starring Jonah Hill, of Superbad fame. Hill plays Noah Griffith, an unemployed college dropout who lives with his mother. One evening his mother asks him to babysit a trio of children so that she can go out with their parents and, needing the money and knowing that his mother could use a night out, Jonah agrees. He arrives at the home and meets the kids; there’s the preppy, gymnastics loving Slater (Max Records), the budding showgirl Blithe (newcomer Landry Bender) and the troublemaking foster-child Rodrigo (How I Spent My Summer Vacation‘s Kevin Hernandez). While sitting, Jonah gets a call from his “girlfriend,” a girl named Marisa (Whip It‘s Ari Graynor) who has him wrapped around her finger, asking him to bring her some cocaine. Jonah stupidly gathers the kids into their parents’ minivan and takes off on a mission to buy cocaine from a guy named Karl (Sam Rockwell from Choke and Cowboys & Aliens) and deliver it to Marisa at a party. Of course, nothing goes as planned and Jonah ends up everywhere from his father’s jewelry store to Slater’s friend’s Bat Mitzvah over the course of the night, with the children in tow, and ends up running afoul of drug dealers, cops and street hoods in the process. Jonah’s focus shifts from Marisa’s needs to those of the children as he gets to know them, and he even teaches them a thing or two while he learns a little bit himself.
The Sitter is a fairly standard low-brow comedy. It’s not quite a departure for Green, but it’s not indicative of his best work, either. It’s funny, but it’s also predictable, and the elements that are not predictable are all too convenient to feel organic at all. Noah and the three kids are fun to watch, and their exploits are entertaining, but nothing new or shocking happens. Even the pee and poop jokes that pepper the film, while humorous, are nothing that hasn’t been done before. One thing that The Sitter has that is lacking in most of today’s comedies is heart. Although Noah tries to have a non-caring and selfish attitude throughout the beginning of the film, it becomes obvious that he actually likes the kids, and even ends up pulling a Mr. Rogers on them, teaching each of them a lesson while protecting them from harm time and time again. Although reluctant, he is a champion babysitter, and consistently puts the kids well being ahead of his own. This heartwarming stuff does not make The Sitter an original film by any means; it just keeps it from feeling too much like other potty mouth comedies like The Hangover. Still, if silly comedy can be considered entertaining, than The Sitter is a movie that can be enjoyed without any thought expounded or strings attached.
Written by first-time screenwriters Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka, The Sitter is a basic point A to point B comedy with few subplots, no subtext and only the scantest bit of a message. It’s a fun little ride, but that’s all it is – a ride. The whole film is just an excuse for snappy jokes and silly visual comedy. The plot is full of holes and loose ends that, in the hands of a more experienced writer (or even with a couple of additional scenes), could be filled and tied so that the movie feels more complete.
The character of Noah, who is supposed to have learned a huge lesson by the end of the film, appears to have not changed all that much over the course of the night. The fact is that, even at the beginning of the film, Noah is not a bad guy. His priorities are a little mixed up, but he’s not the total scoundrel that would benefit by having a revelation after a night of protecting three children from the evils of the city. Right from the beginning, he realizes that the kids are his responsibility and he does not shirk that responsibility, even when he gets talked into running drugs with them in the car. The situations make for a funny enough movie, but the lack of a real character arc leaves the viewer feeling unsatisfied.
One thing that The Sitter has going for it is that it’s funny. This is thanks mostly to Jonah Hill, who plays Noah with a dry, sarcastic sense of humor. Noah is constantly and quickly alternating between uttering hilarious little one liners and mouthing off to people at full-volume, a characteristic that keeps the audience on its toes, not wanting to miss anything he says. There’s plenty of physical comedy, too, with the kids getting in on the act wherever they end up. Kevin Hernandez’s little Rodrigo is extremely amusing, spending the entire night in pajamas and cowboy boots, and is the catalyst for most of the misadventures of the evening. And Sam Rockwell is hilarious as Karl, the ambiguously asexual drug dealer, playing the part half Bruno and half Scarface. Nothing is taboo – there are racial, gender and sexual stereotypes everywhere, but they stop just short of really offensive and stay humorous. The Sitter is not gut-busting, but delivers enough laughs to keep the viewer entertained throughout the course of the film.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): David Gordon Green
- Producer(s): Brian GatewoodAlessandro Tanaka
- Screenwriter(s): Jonah Hill (Noah Jaybird)Method Man (Jacolby)Jessica Hecht (Sandy)
- Story: Erin Daniels (Mrs. Pedulla)
- Cast: Landry Bender (Blithe)Max Records (Slater)Dreama Walker (Stephanie) Craig AlpertTim OrrRichard A. Wright
- Cinematographer: Jeff McIIwainDavid Wingo
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA