In The Sitter, Jonah Hill stars as Noah, a jobless twenty-something slacker that lives at home with his mom and spends his days at the constant beck and call of his trashy, self-centered “girlfriend” Marisa (Ari Graynor). When he accepts an offer to babysit his neighbor’s three children, he anticipates a relaxing evening followed by some easy cash, but an unexpected phone call from Marisa results in Noah bundling the children into Mom and Dad’s minivan and heading off into the city on an errand to score some drugs for a party.
What Noah doesn’t count on is that each of these children are ridiculously messed up. Slater is completely dependent on anxiety medication and may or may not be having questions about his sexuality, Blithe is obsessed with celebrity gossip and idolizes the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, and the adopted Rodrigo has a penchant for thievery and blowing up toilets. Noah is forced to balance all of these complications while simultaneously trying to deal with a “misunderstanding” that results in Karl the coke dealer (Sam Rockwell) and his sidekick trying to kill him and the children.
From a performance standpoint, my complaints are minor. Hill does what he does best, playing the same sort of character he always plays. The child actors are all excellent, particularly Max Records as the conflicted Slater, and Sam Rockwell steals the show as Karl, turning a one-note character into a constant source of hilarity thanks to his bizarre interpretation of the role. JB Smoove also gets honorable mention as Karl’s right-hand man, with a handful of lines that you’ll most likely be quoting for weeks after seeing this film. Unfortunately, despite the praise I have for the cast, everything else is a mess.
The Sitter is obviously trying very hard to be Adventures in Babysitting, but falls miserably short of those aspirations, as this film lacks the heart of the 80’s classic. Vulgarity is substituted for wit, cheap plot devices are exchanged for genuine narrative progression, and the result is a very uneven film that has no identity of its own. We’re expected to believe that this schlub who is completely unable and unwilling to get his own life together can somehow impart Yoda-like advice to these children and magically solve all of their issues, all while running around the city trying to deliver cocaine to a girl who has no respect for him, just so that she might finally sleep with him. The premise just doesn’t work.
Oh, and let’s not forget Noah’s former classmate, a smoking hot astronomy enthusiast that falls for him amidst all the mayhem in one of the most incredibly implausible onscreen romances in the history of cinema.
If the script was as strong as the cast, this could have been a very enjoyable film, but much like Your Highness, it feels like director David Gordon Green is trying too hard to recapture the magic that made Pineapple Express a hit. Hopefully he’s learned his lesson.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10