Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka
Starring: Jonah Hill, Sam Rockwell, Max Records, Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez
Noah (Jonah Hill) is a suspended college student who decides to baby-sit the three kids next door (Max Records, Landry Bender and Kevin Hernandez) in order for his mother to go on a date, and a series of crazy and wild events interrupt the night.
Unfortunately it happens with a lot of ‘it’ actors in the realm of cinematic comedy. Once they’re discovered and become ‘hot’ they’re in high demand and for a period of about a year or so, they are CONSTANTLY in production, skipping from project to project, until we the viewing audience feel as we’re seeing them week after week in release after release and their comedic persona repeating in almost every flick gives us fatigue. Jonah Hill has reached that point of fatigue for me.
I absolutely love him in flicks like Superbad, Knocked Up, Money Ball etc but he’s an actor that I’ve seen in far too many roles with a similar persona. However, I don’t want to completely right off The Sitter.
There are some nuances to the typical Hill lead that actually made for interesting viewing. In past characters there’s been bravado with a foundation of cowardice that undermines and proverbially pulls his characters pants down. In The Sitter he’s the discarded son of divorce that does it tough in the shadow of his father’s new family and wealth, while he and his mother suffer and scrounge to make ends meet. Noah is a more assertive character with less to lose than other character’s Hill has played before. In moments that you think he’ll shrink and retreat, he admirably stands tall, even if it means getting beating up by a girl. You respect his utter nihilism as the film progresses.
Wow! I cannot believe I just wrote the word ‘nihilism’ in my review of The Sitter.
David Gordon Green’s directorial sensibility clearly colours The Sitter with the palette of Pineapple Express. The characters peppered that provide the back drop for the adventure are larger than life, utterly ridiculous, out of this world. None better than Sam Rockwell playing the psychopathic, flamboyantly gay, drug dealer Karl whose meth lab workers look more like a ‘Mister Universe’ competition than the bleak exploited foreigners that movies and T.V have taught us do that kind of work.
The trio of kids provide good entertainment early on there’s an expectation of ‘growth’ and ‘you’ll learn something here’ that becomes evident as the film progresses that feels as it undermines the absurdity of the premise.
There’s a really fine line in the film where Noah (Hill) confronts Slater (Records) one of the children about his sexuality that I wanted to commend the film for. The discussion could be overstepping the mark, but by normalizing homosexuality, it provides a positive example for younger viewers to accept who you are regardless of the sexuality. I do concur that in some ways it felt totally out of place in a clearly ‘out-there’ comedy.
The Sitter is a pretty funny, absurdist ‘worst babysitter ever’ story that gives glimpses of serious commentary disguised by dick jokes and the David Gordon Green Pineapple Express & Your Highness ethos – without ever surpassing it’s predecessors.