As much as I love Jonah Hill I feel like I really dropped the ball by not recognizing the first red flag attached to THE SITTER. I don’t have an extensive knowledge of all things that David Gordon Green has been a part of over the years but I’ve seen and liked PINEAPPLE EXPRESS before seeing and loathing YOUR HIGHNESS. I can’t say that I’m surprised I didn’t enjoy THE SITTER that much but I am at least happy to say I liked it more than YOUR HIGHNESS- which really isn’t saying that much.
Jonah Hill plays a guy, Noah, who gets stuck babysitting a few kids so that his mom can get herself back on the market for a party where she is being set up with a potential beau. When he gets to the house with the kids he is babysitting he learns quickly that he might have his hands full as one has severe anxiety issues, one is a dolled up celebrity enthusiast and one is an adopted boy obsessed with bombs and fireworks. When his girlfriend teases him with the possibility of having sex with her for the first time he takes the kids out on an errand to score some drugs and deliver them to the party she is at- nothing could possibly go wrong right?
Set aside the fact that this movie feels like its way passed its “Best if used by” date and judging the film on its entertainment merits alone it’s still very stale. The script, the jokes and just about every other aspect of the film is lazy minus just a few bright spots that are due in large part to Jonah Hill and Sam Rockwell. The film opens on a cringe worthy note with Hill’s character performing oral sex on Ari Graynor’s character and it’s followed by an awkward exchange where it’s apparently a well known fact that fat guys are naturally great at cunnilingus- which is a joke that Kevin Smith has been selling much better for years now. The film is just full of recycled elements from previous films that it tries to take advantage of in order to make a quick buck.
It’s not all doom and gloom as there are sparse moments of humor either in side comments that seem improvised, but mostly because I like Jonah Hill as much as I do and that Sam Rockwell is the film’s biggest saving grace. Hill gives the film a shot, though even he seems a bit bored with the material at times, but Sam Rockwell came in ready to just ham it up and his scenes are the best in the film. Rockwell is always great as a bad guy and here he gets to be that but also an incredibly likable bad guy that you know will kill you but at least he does it while treating you like a friend. The sad part is that he comes and goes a few times during the film and when he leaves you can feel the wind leave the sails.
There’s nothing done from the director’s chair that makes any of the proceeding look or feel any more interesting either. The screenplay does not aim to be anything more than generic so it would take a very ambitious eye to elevate the material and Green must have been just as bored with the material as I was because it’s the kind of film that he could haves easily phoned in while reading the sports section from the toilet every morning.
If there was any other aspect of THE SITTER worth praising outside of Hill and Rockwell the film might have snuck its way into a recommendation. As it is though the film is really only worth checking out if the batteries run out of your remote while you’re flipping through channels and somehow stops on this. You will still hunt furiously for spare batteries but might get a few laughs before you give up and just leave it on in the background while you surf the internet or do household chores.