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The Sitter


More adventures in babysitting.

Rod Lott March 26th, 2012

Jonah Hill's had a great past few months: the shedding of 100 pounds, an Oscar nomination for Moneyball and a current sleeper smash with 21 Jump Street. Imagine how much greater things could've been, had audiences actually stood in line to sit for The Sitter when it opened in December. It's hardly holiday fare.

sitter

But it's also not unwatchable. Its problem is that you've seen this predictable comedy done before and done better, most notably in 1987's Adventures in Babysitting. At least that one introduced Elisabeth Shue to my dreams.

Just as with that Disney film, The Sitter is a reluctant one in taking the nighttime gig to three young charges. Here, Hill's Noah is put in charge of a boy with panic attacks (Max Records, Where the Wild Things Are), his little sister who channels Paris Hilton vapidness (newcomer Landry Bender) and their newly adopted Hispanic brother (feature-debuting Kevin Hernandez), who's something of a psychotic pyromaniac.

The evening’s shenanigans begin when Noah's quasi-girlfriend (Ari Graynor, What's Your Number?) offers sex if he'll join her at a party and, oh, can he pick up some cocaine on his way? One $10,000 worth of stolen blow later, a vengeful drug dealer (Sam Rockwell, Cowboys & Aliens) is on their minivan’s tail. Can everything be sorted out and the kids in bed before their parents get home? Of course.

The Sitter is harmless ... but also toothless, despite that R rating, which must be more for the opening, unfunny scene of Hill-on-Graynor cunnilingus than anything else. Moments of laugh-out-loud humor are precious few, and come from lines I'm assuming Hill ad-libbed, none involving profanity. Among the kids, only Bender is given a character that works in the presumably madcap situation, much less makes any kind of an impression.

Watching won't hurt, and you're not likely to hate yourself in the morning, probably because the experience of it all is as fleeting as its problem-suggestive running time, all of 81 minutes. The Blu-ray offers an unrated "Totally Irresponsible Edition" that runs six minutes more; if they come culled from some of the deleted scenes, then I'm glad I opted for viewing the theatrical version.

The best thing I can say about The Sitter is that it's much better than director David Gordon Green's last movie, the wholly wretched Your Highness. Both, however, make one wonder if Green entirely has abandoned the indie stories that kickstarted his career and brought him much praise. After America's collective indifference of his forays into big-screen comedy, those good reviews have to have him feeling nostalgic for the good ol’ days. —Rod Lott

 
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