Movie Review: The Sitter

Thank God for Jonah Hill’s Oscar-nominated performance inMoneyball because The Sitter doesn’t do his talents any justice. Reverting back to his underachiever role, Hill is a rude and selfish jerk in this comedy, which is more offensive than funny.

Directed by David Gordon Green, the film stars Hill as Noah Griffith, a student suspended from college for reasons never explained. Stuck living at home with his mother, Noah spends his time performing sexual favours on his “girlfriend,” Marisa (Ari Graynor), in the hope she will someday return the favour.  When she doesn’t, he’s stuck sitting on the couch watching T.V. Lured into a babysitting gig by his mother, he ends up caring for three rowdy kids. Oldest brother Slater (Max Records) is an emotional and anxious loner who’s always texting his best friend. Blithe (Landry Bender) on the other hand, is a wild and sassy little girl who enjoys plastering make-up on her face and talking about going to the hottest nightclubs. And, lastly, there’s the newly adopted Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), a pyromaniac who runs away so often that his parents have put a GPS chip in his jacket.

While it’s obvious Noah could care less about the kids, everything is fine until he receives a call from Marisa, who agrees to sleep with him if he pays a visit to her drug dealer friend, Karl (Sam Rockwell), to pick up some coke. Tempted by the offer, Noah steals the family minivan and takes the children with him to Manhattan. When Noah arrives at the sketchy lair, he warms up to Karl, who’s strangely surrounded by heavily muscled men. While Karl dubs Noah his “eighth best friend,” he quickly gains Karl’s hostility after Rodrigo steals ten-grand worth of drugs. Wanting Noah to compensate him, a series of mishaps unfold.

The Sitter isn’t very likeable, but what makes it easy to sit through is the fact that there are numerous absurdities, whether from the characters or the situations. While Hill’s sad sack loser shtick is completely believable, it’s hard to take his acting seriously.

And as if the film isn’t already inappropriate enough, it employs blatantly racist humour. With Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man and Samira Wiley playing no-nonsense gangsters Jacobly and Tina, the stereotypical writing for the two is more distasteful than humorous.

Thankfully, the special features allow the actors to shine in moments that are quite hilarious. The DVD includes deleted scenes and a gag reel, both showcasing some improv that’s much funnier than many of the scenes in the film. However, the best featurette is “Jonah the Producer.” Shot in a mock-documentary style, it shows Hill trying to get close with the child actors’ parents while taking a more personal hand in the kids’ education by tutoring them.

The Sitter is a completely forgettable film that doesn’t quite match the success of Hill’s other comedies.

(This review was published in Exclaim! on March 20, 2012)

5/10

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