When it comes to the members of the actors that Judd Apatow works with on a fairly regular basis, the one who has seemingly come out of nowhere to become a star has been Jonah Hill. From a bit role in The 40 Year Old Virgin to a leading role in Superbad fairly quickly, Hill seemingly has the talent to be more than just a comedian known for working in slacker comedies with Seth Rogen and the usual suspects. After earning substantial praise for a star-making role in Moneyball earlier this year, Hill wanders back into the spectacularly bad slacker comedy The Sitter.
Noah (Hill) is a college washout who can’t find a job and has been a regular screw-up in all facets of his life. Even his girlfriend (Ari Graynor) doesn’t have any respect for him and it seems Noah doesn’t have any for himself, either. When the chance comes up to babysit three of his neighbor’s children (Max Records, Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez), and his better half wants him to score drugs for her with the promise of sex in return, Noah seizes the moment and takes the children to New York City. Winding up on the bad side of a wacky drug dealer (Sam Rockwell), Noah has to navigate three children with bizarre problems as well as his own insufficiencies in a wacky night straight out of Adventures in Babysitting.
Except that film has a sort of odd nostalgia vibe to it despite its aging badly over the years. This film, unfortunately, just isn’t funny and easily forgettable to boot.
It seems to be more of an experiment in brutality and how far one can get children to use blue humor than anything else. Which is unfortunate because it’s yet another failed comedy from David Gordon Green, who once was a promising storyteller behind the camera, made a similar misfire in Your Highness earlier this year. And this film suffers from the same chief problems that Your Highness suffers from: it thinks it’s much funnier than it actually is.
Even in a bad comedy some jokes hit to make it feel like it’s not all that horrible but in this case nothing hits. We’ve seen outlandish actions from children before but the problem is that it feels perfunctory as opposed to organic. As opposed to a film like Role Models, where the children knew what they were saying and why, this feels like children going through the motions to make this an R-rated film as opposed to part of successful characters and a narrative needing them to do so.
And that’s a problem; outside of Noah there’s nothing about any of the characters that makes them interesting or give us a reason to care about. And even Noah it’s hard; we can see why he’d bend over backwards for a girl who barely acknowledges his presence in her life but it makes him into someone we pity as opposed to someone likeable. It’s a shame because Hill has a number of good moments that he absolute comes through on and is the film’s lone bright spot. He’s requiring to carry the film and he does so; there are a number of moments in the film that have some comedic potential and a couple chuckles can come out watching them. The film’s lone dramatic moment towards the end has no heft towards it.
The Sitter is a bad film from a good director and a better actor, which is a shame.
Director: David Gordon Green Notable Cast: Jonah Hill, Ari Graynor, Sam Rockwell, J.B Smoove, Method Man, Max Records, Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez Writer(s): Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka