Film review: ‘The Sitter’
Wed, Dec 7, 2011 (12:39 p.m.)
Director David Gordon Green may have started his career with serious indie dramas like All the Real Girls and Snow Angels, but he was apparently yearning all along to be the purveyor of ’80s-style action-comedy schlock. As soon as he attracted some Hollywood attention, Green ditched his artsy ambitions in favor of lowbrow comedies Pineapple Express, Your Highness and the new The Sitter. A crass riff on Adventures in Babysitting, The Sitter features Jonah Hill as slacker college dropout Noah, who’s cajoled into babysitting three hellish children as a favor to his mother. As in Adventures, what appears to be a simple (albeit suspect) errand—Noah wants to purchase cocaine for his reprehensible girlfriend (Ari Graynor)—soon turns into a nightmarish odyssey, as Noah and the three obnoxious brats run afoul of a drug dealer and find themselves chased all over New York City.
The humor in The Sitter is crude and unoriginal, with an overreliance on racial stereotypes and the concept that small children saying anything remotely vulgar is hilarious. Hill can be likeable, but Noah is nearly as much of a whiny brat as his charges, all of whom are so annoying that they deserve to be left by the side of the road as Noah pursues his ill-advised plan to get laid. Instead, everyone learns some important lessons about self-acceptance and how to respect others, which are especially disingenuous when surrounded by comic set pieces about drugs and bodily functions. As he did in Pineapple Express and Your Highness, Green succeeds in capturing the feel of something 13-year-old boys would be excited to see on Cinemax in 1987, but that’s not exactly an accomplishment to be proud of.