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.
With the number of movies being written, made and released on a year to year basis isn’t it just expected that more than just a handful will skate on familiar territory? Romantic comedies suffer far too often from being watered down for mass audiences just to pander to the crowds that want the mushy material to push out the vulgar. WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER at times refuses to hide its vulgar side but eventually sells itself out for a more conventional and poorly conceived finale that tries to overshadow its vulgarity with overdone romantic clichés.
Anna Faris stars as Ally, a young girl who happens to read a little too deep into the quizzes and factoids from popular feminine magazines. After being fired from her job, Ally reads that any girl with over 20 sexual partners often never finds that special someone and Ally is hovering on 19 sexual partners. After a drunken escapade leaves her with no wiggle room on the over 20 partners rule she decides that the only way to find her special someone is to sift through her former lovers to find chemistry without raising her number. With the help of her neighbor, Captain Ameri- I mean Colin (Chris Evans), she tracks down each ex in hopes one of them has improved over time and will want to marry her.
I usually really like Anna Faris even if the movie she’s in usually fails to move or entertain me on any spectacular level. The same goes here as I somewhat enjoyed WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER because Faris and Evans have enough chemistry and comedic timing to make the film funny- at least during the first half. Faris’ character has a cute personality but spouts lines that paint her as incredibly shallow which I find to be extremely unlikable. Then there’s Chris Evans, who doesn’t attempt to hide his obvious character flaws which are bad enough but at least he is honest about what he’s doing. Neither have much to work with as far as the script goes- except the filmmakers invent just about every situation possible to get images of Faris’ side boob, Evan’s covering his genitals and eventually both of them exposing their “assets.”
WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER attempts to be as R rated as recent rom coms like LOVE & OTHER DRUGS and FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS but the writing just isn’t as quick or as interesting as either of those two films which are not perfect, but better examples of the genre recently. There are times when the film and the actors hit a grove and can get a few good laughs but when we get closer to the end it gets more and more generic until it totally fizzles out.
Evans does a good job playing a cocky bachelor and his character mixes well with Faris who has always had pretty great comedic timing as far as female actresses are concerned. Together they offer enough good natured laughs and vulgar fun but as romantic interests they don’t quite fit. When they are sparring back and forth you can feel the chemistry, but when the mushy feelings start coming out it doesn’t feel as natural and the sparks just aren’t there.
With sparse romantic chemistry and somewhat weak jokes WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER comes off more generic than it ultimately is. Evans and Faris have on and off moments of charming and vulgar comedy and the supporting cast of ex boyfriends provide some decent laughs. The script sometimes relies too heavily on retreading its own jokes (Twitter being the source of more than a few) and often doesn’t try to push the boundaries enough to be truly memorable. There are worse examples of the raunchy rom com movies within the genre but with a decent cast and slightly above average jokes WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER could have added up to something much better.