Film Review: The Sitter

(Published on Lost In The Multiplex and in Issue 6 of In Retrospect)

Directed by David Gordon Green, The Sitter follows college student Noah (Jonah Hill) who is coaxed into babysitting three, very different, children – closet homosexual Slater (Max Records), celebrity wannabe Blithe (Landry Bender) and pyromaniac Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez). When Noah’s girlfriend Marissa (Ari Graynor), or in reality the girl who likes to take advantage of his very giving nature, promises Noah a night a fun if he can get away from babysitting for a few hours, Noah and the children end up on a wild chase around town as they get on the wrong side of drug dealer Karl (Sam Rockwell).

If you’ve seen Get Him To The Greek then you know what’s going on here. Apart from the fact that Russell Brand‘s Aldous Snow has been swapped for three young children, everything else is very much the same, as Jonah Hill is given a seemingly easy job to do but rather ends up getting in all and every kind of drug, sex and violence-related drama going.

The two main irritations about The Sitter are what is to be expected from an easy-going comedy. The first is the use of unrealistic scenes where only the worst possibly thing can happen – the cliché of everything going wrong in the most unlikely of ways. Second is the constant over-exaggerations of characters, where everybody plays a stereotype to its fullest potential. For some reason, though, neither of these become completely unbearable. Whilst everything has the potential to be clichéd, it still manages to work.

As for the characters, only one of the three child actors seemed to be a genuine portrayal of a youngster, and that was the very casual Slater. Whilst Blithe was purposefully glamorised, her portrayal went too far in places, and Rodrigo was just completely unrealistic which came off as a ridiculous exaggeration rather than a comedic one. Nevertheless, by the end of the film, I found all of them fairly likeable as Hill attempts to teach them moral lessons. Again, it was a factor that came together at the end to work better than expected.

Hill plays the typical teenage character we are used to seeing from him, but even he manages to pull off a nice guy persona – his character is less vile than might be expected and has more confidence. This altered my perspective of him – even though it was only a very minor difference in the role he was playing. The same can’t be said for Ari Graynor, however, as I have only seen her play a character too drunk and/or drugged up to properly function. Whilst she does this well, her character has very little to take away.

In between any criticisms, though, there is actually some quite decent comedy. It isn’t the best of films and it probably isn’t something I would choose to see again, but it’s an easy film to watch that works well enough with very little effort.

This is probably the last time we see Hill as a chubster as well, as in his next film, 21 Jump Street, which is set to be released on 16th March, we will see the Jonah Hill that has lost all his weight. It will be interesting to see how that will affect his comedic stance as we are used to him playing the funny, awkward fat kid, so I guess we should make the most of The Sitter whilst we still have something to laugh at.

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