The Sitter – 2011
Directed by David Gordon Green
Starring Jonah Hill, Ari Graynor, Max Records, Sam Rockwell, J.B. Smoove, Method Man, Erin Daniels, D.W. Moffett, Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez, Kylie Bunbury, Jessica Hecht
Screenplay by Brian Gatewood, Alessandro Tanaka
The question that occurs to me, while watching The Sitter, is the following: what in the hell is wrong with Gatewood and Tanaka? While having the cognizant ability to comprehend the concept of black comedy, there is no way these guys are even in the ball park. Swearing at kids is one thing. Involving them in grand theft auto for purposes of obtaining drugs so you can bring them to a party for a girl who will finally relent to having intercourse with you is quite another. Add to this, burglary, more car theft, battery, gun play, and just plain blowing crap up. And for those of you calling me on using the word “intercourse,” the distinction is, sadly, necessary in this case.
As we begin the story, Hill is Noah, a guy cited for driving under the influence who has recently been suspended from his college. Now he lives with his Mom (Hecht), who is single, after Dad ran off with the secretary and started another family. “What about all the back child support?” Noah asks his Mom. At this point we wonder why the subject would come up during the exposition part of the movie. Don’t worry, it’s that obvious for a reason. So, Mom has a chance to hook up with a doctor…only if Noah can watch the 3 kids of Mom’s hot friend, who, coincidentally also has a husband who is cheating with the secretary. Don’t worry, though, it’s not the same secretary, just the same plot device. What in the world would impel parents who are aware of someone’s driving under the influence record, rendering him to riding a bike, to watch their kids anyway? They had it covered, though. The sleazy dad just told him to stay away from the car.
Given the loose parallel to Adventures in Babysitting and Harold and Kumar, we know that we will find plenty of people acting like adult children, lots of near misses with seeming danger, and some scary interactions with black people. One of the most endearing dumb things that filmmakers like to attempt to get the black people seal of approval. In the ’80’s, adorable little Elisabeth Shue won over Albert Collins in a swingin’ blues jam that not even the lily-white would buy. This time, Noah swaps jive with a guy at the door of a bar and, within minutes, has the of the bar ready to back him up should he ever run into troubles in the future. In, you know, a half hour. We all know that the path to legitimacy in lame movies is the tacit approval of the black contingency on the screen.
In the warped vision of our intrepid screenwriters, it is okay for the protagonist, currently dragging these kids all around town in the pursuit of sex and away from drug dealers, to tell a kid who is under 13 that he likely is gay. Even when the kid denies it. All this, of course, because the kid’s friend found a new friend. I shudder at the thought of Noah wandering through my life around the time that I had a hard time keeping best friends. It’s called Jr. High. Everyone is navigating new social waters. It does not mean that they even understand the concept of having a girlfriend, much less being gay. Glad he wasn’t there to “help” when I needed someone to talk to.
This movie is all types of wrong. It has no clue who it is appealing to. It certainly can’t appeal to anyone with kids. It’s not going to get the under 15 set, if their parents have any idea what their kids are watching. Anyone older than 15 would find the “adult situations” comically lacking in common sense. Sad thing is, Jonah Hill’s delivery is spot on. It should be, though. He’s been playing this character for about 5 years.
If you are a Hill fan, give this a test run. Undoubtedly you will crack the occasional smile, but I doubt you will remember why a few seconds later.
(*1/2 out of *****)