The Sitter

Director: David Gordon Green

Notable Cast: Jonah Hill, Max Records, Sam Rockwell, J.B. Smoove, Ari Graynor, Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez

Rating: R

Review:  Well, here goes Green’s second attempt at comedy in 2011.  His first lackluster effort was the medieval stoner comedy Your Highness, which totally bombed.  Now here comes The Sitter, a raunchy Jonah Hill vessel utilizing the age-old trick of putting what are believed to be innocent little pipsqueaks into R-rated situations.  The red band trailer had me sold from moment one, but also included most of the funniest material for that single trailer.  As advertised it was crude, rude, and inappropriate…but again felt misguided much like Your Highness.  Pineapple Express and hit HBO series “Eastbound & Down” rocketed Green into the comedy limelight with his sometimes dry but always off-beat sense of humor, but these last two films have helped squashed the hype.  The Sitter is hands down a more enjoyable experience than Your Highness, at least giving us some laugh out loud hilarious moments.  Honestly, putting young children around coke dealers, muscle men, drunks, thugs, and gangsters was bound to pay off eventually.  Most of the time it’s a no fail situation.  Plus, this is the last time we get fat Jonah Hill!  Rest in peace overweight funny man, enter the slightly chubby comedian.  Either way, The Sitter proves he should never ever be let near children.

Noah is your typical lazy college drop out with no job and no ambition.  He lives at home with his single mother after an unfaithful father walked out with the babysitter years back, and his generosity is being taken advantage of by the manipulative girl of his dreams Marisa (Graynor).  Down on his luck is an understatement.  But all that could change one night when he does his mom a solid by baby-sitting her friend’s children so the adults can go for a night out and hopefully set up his lonely mother.  Of course that has to be the night Marisa decides she finally wants to reciprocate Noah’s generosity…if you know what I mean.  Noah has a choice: either abide by the rules and keep the kids home, or drag the little runts on an epic journey to find cocaine and meet up with Marisa.  Wouldn’t be much of a movie if they all stayed home, so Noah loads the crew up and embarks on his debaucherous journey.

No more fat Jonah!!!

It’s disappointing to see Green falling into this pattern of comedy, producing elements that are either hit or miss.  Too many jokes just fall flat on their face.  Sam Rockwell plays Karl, the friend obsessed drug dealer who hides out in a dank gym full of homosexual weight-lifting meat heads.  This was supposed to be an interesting personality characteristic and the literal butt of numerous jokes.  But after the initial shock of spandex clad feminine thugs and repeated use of the “you’re my 8th best friend” line, the joke runs lame and frustrating, hence the perfect example of Green’s wacky sense of humor that sometimes completely misses the audience’s tastes.  But in the same respect, some of the stranger additions to The Sitter became the best parts.  The fly ghetto character Soul Baby (Reggie Alvin Green) was utilized perfectly, only to interject his flowing street talk when necessary.  His lines were short and sweet, but hysterical every time.  Film wise Green is 2 for 2 in these type of hit and miss situations, exemplifying how his humor either knocks it out of the park or leaves you puzzled by implementation.  Your Highness suffered the same fate, The Sitter just happened to do it a tad better.

Our adorable child actors all stepped up nicely though, having their shining moments (both comically and emotionally).  Celebrity obsessed Blithe (Bender) was a nice commentary on the values our children are learning from these no talent paparazzi whores running rampant in the media today.  Just wanting to party and make fragrances, Blithe is obsessed with make-up, expensive things, and clubbing…not real moral values.  Rodrigo (Hernandez) fills the ethnic quota, bouncing from foster home to foster home only to land with the Padulla clan.  Misunderstood, he turns to destruction and pyromania to keep himself occupied.  Slater (Records) rounds out the children by being a paranoid anxiety mess who relies on medication to stay straight.  It’s the typical “each child learns an unexpected lesson from the seemingly dimwitted babysitter, while these little tikes teach the authority figure a lesson or two as well” plot line, as each child evolves over the movie.  It gets deep and dark sometimes, but I’d be lying if I said the child subplot meant nothing to me.  Hill was more effective as an actor in working the neglected children’s problems out than a comedic actor in my opinion, and a lot of problems in the parenting world are highlighted by the Pedulla children’s psyche.  Noah has an especially heart-felt and warming conversation with Slater, teaching the child to accept himself for the person he is, not to hide behind what society dictates is normal.  Threw me for a loop how dramatic The Sitter got, but I found myself feeling for these poor children.  Green’s showed flashes of his earlier non-comedic work in these moments, which is something he should always hold onto.

The Sitter is one of those films you walk out neither hating nor loving (well for me at least).  I had my hearty laughs, but dull moments as well.  More was expected from one of my favorite actors Sam Rockwell, as well as random funny guy J.B. Smoove (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”/We Bought A Zoo) who get lost in a shuffle of bad and overused jokes.  With Green’s very specific comedy mind, each joke is like reaching into an office grab bag.  Most of them will be some kind of inappropriate reference or potty joke, but not everyone likes the gag gift from Spencer’s you yourself might find hilarious.  Sometimes you get a gift that was doomed from the start, like a friggin’ Snuggie, and can’t even laugh out of mind-boggling confusion.  But sometimes, just sometimes, you pull out that golden egg of a gift, be it a liquor gift pack with the special glass and all or something along those lines, and you realized how big of a bullet you just dodged.  More often than not, Green’s contributions are like those Spencer’s gifts, but for a few tries, we pull out that delicious gift pack, and thank Green for those short-lived successes.  But, these few moments are not enough to blind us from the remaining failures, negatively evening out the overall average.

Final Rating: 6.5 dinosaur eggs out of 10

Wish it was still appropriate to wear pajamas anywhere…oh to be young…well…younger again….


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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