The Sitter Review: Adventures In Failure

THE SITTER (15): On General Release Friday 20th January

Moneyball was the film that proved that Jonah Hill could do more than stare in boggle-eyed indignity in teen gross-out comedies.  Hopefully The Sitter represents the last film in that phase as David Gordon Green’s new film is painfully laugh-free and an embarrassment to actors who should have known better.

Hill plays Noah Griffith, a twenty-something who’s roped into babysitting three eccentric kids – Slater (Max Records) a neurotic with “anxiety issues”; Blithe (Landry Bender), a precocious tween with designs on becoming rich and famous; and Rodrigo (Kevin Fernandez), an adopted South American child with a penchant for explosively demolishing public toilets.

While Noah’s supposed to be keeping an eye on the trio in their own home, he’s quickly tempted out onto the road with a promise of some action by his “girlfriend” (Ari Graynor). All he has to do is score her cocaine from some Russian mobsters led by Karl (an also slumming it Sam Rockwell).

Things seem to be working out fine until Rodrigo smashes a fake dinosaur egg full of the white stuff leading Karl to demand that Noah come up with $10,000 before midnight.

The Sitter is just not funny enough.  It features the usual melange of slapstick humour, toilet gags, profanity and punch ups but none of it really penetrates.  It’s not offensively bad (a la Hall Pass last year) and there are one or two amusing lines and scenarios (notably an all-too-brief fight involving Sam Rockwell) but for the most part it trundles along in first gear, content to ride along a conveyor belt of contrived plot points and lazy stereotypes.

There are films that take place over the course of one night that actually work well.  Superbad, Hill’s breakthrough film was one such movie, as was the surprising festive gem of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas.  Sadly, The Sitter is a tired and tiring movie which has two saving graces: its hip-hop soundtrack and its running time – a mercifully brief 81 minutes.

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