The Sitter Movie Review
Comedy has always been an interesting genre to review. On the one hand, expectations really shouldn't be very high for many types of comedic movies. The point is to make you laugh, so if the film does that, then why would you review it negatively? Regardless of plot holes or questionable acting or what have you? Moreover, if you go into a movie expecting to hate it or preparing yourself to criticize every little detail, then that pretty much defeats the purpose of watching any comedies.
Over the years, the very best comedic films have spoiled us. Even more recent movies like Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and The Big Lebowski have spoiled us. They make going to the movies to watch a comedy a risk more than anything else, and it's created this sense of expectation around the genre that's been really too high.
So when I go watch a comedy, even as an amateur critic, I try not to spend too much time focusing on the things I would look at when watching a drama, something a little more serious. Comedies are supposed to be fun and make you laugh. They're supposed to be zany, unrealistic, improbable. They're not meant to be torn to shreds simply because they're not the funniest comedy of all time.
That said, there's a limit. I don't like movies that pretend to be something they're not, and you don't have too far down my list of movie reviews to figure that out. Just this summer, I called Bad Teacher an effort in futility, and Friends with Benefits pretentious and unoriginal. It's something that has to be balanced.
So, where does Jonah Hill's latest film, "The Sitter" fall within the spectrum of comedies? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. There is literally nothing memorable about this movie. Just another notch on the belt of Hill (no pun intended). It's actually difficult to even say anything about this movie, because it's literally irrelevant. And I know that might sound harsh, but that's not how it's meant. It's just another in a long line of comedies that simply have to be released to fill quotas, complete resumes and showcase talents. This isn't a matter of the new Hollywood being the new Hollywood, it's just always been that way. You know those movies that you see on classic, low-budget cable comedy channels? The type of movies that probably cost next to nothing to air? That's pretty much where "The Sitter" is going to find a home in 20 years.
And that's not necessarily a bad thing. The film has its funny moments, a plot that pretty much holds up and a heartwarming ending. Maybe not worth the price of admission to the theater, but definitely not a complete waste of time.
The plot is pretty straight forward. Jonah Hill plays Noah, a 20-something college dropout with no ambitions, living at home with his single mom. After pleasuring his way-too-hot "girlfriend" who gives him nothing back, he returns home to find out his mom has a prospective date, but the friend who's setting her up can't find a babysitter. Despite his selfishness and his general assholery, Noah agrees to babysit the three kids so his mom can have a good time.
This all happens in the two opening scenes of the film, as director David Gordon Green (Eastbound & Down, Pineapple Express) takes us right into the main plot with one of the shortest first acts I've ever seen. Noah arrives at children's home, where he proceeds to meet them one after the other along with their mother. It might be the most by-the-numbers plot and character setup I've ever seen, but it works, so why should we complain?
The Pedullas leave for their party, and Noah is left to watch TV with a bunch of annoying kids. Blithe, the youngest, is a girl who wishes to grow up to be a celebrity. Slater is a weird, introverted kid with plenty of anxiety and plenty of pills. Rodrigo is the adopted child from Latin America who likes blowing things up and acts like a little Scarface. All is going as expected until Noah gets a call from his girlfriend Marissa, asking him to pick up some cocaine and meet him at a party. She entices him with sex, and he agrees, bringing the kids along and taking the minivan he was informed not to touch by the father (D. W. Moffett) on a drug run -- another thing that the movie makes no attempt to justify.
They get to the drug den, where they meet a bunch of muscular men in tights for some reason, Julio (the incredibly underused J.B. Smoove) and the druglord, Carl (Sam Rockwell), who sell him the cocaine, only to be interrupted by Rodrigo, who steals a dinosaur egg full of coke on his way to the bathroom. As you can imagine, things get pretty crazy after Noah spills the coke and they have to spend the evening finding $10,000 for Carl so they won't get killed. They got to a Bat Mitzvah, Noah's dad's jewlery store, even have a run in with a gang full of thugs. On their way, the kids -- and Noah -- make some realizations about themselves, and by the end of it all, everything is back to normal as they return home at the absolute last second.
As I mentioned before, The Sitter is beyond formulaic. Not only does it use the same excuses we've seen in so many movies before to place their characters in unlikely situations, but it completely disregards reality in order to move its plot along. By the end of the film, Noah's done irreparable damage to the Pedullas' car (not to mention spilled cocaine all over it), broken bottles and vases all around their home, gotten a drug dealer beaten to within an inch of a life, is wanted for questioning by the police, stolen his father's car and jewelry and blown up his store, and vandalize public toilets, but the plot doesn't even bother resolving any of that. It's like saying to their viewers "we know it's unrealistic, but who cares?" Frankly I don't. It's a movie, you're supposed to suspend your disbelief.
That said, even for a standard studio comedy, it's lazy writing and it's sort of unnecessary. There's no reason for the film to be as formulaic and nonsensical as it is, even if it doesn't necessarily affect the viewer's potential enjoyment of the film. Simply put, "The Sitter" could be better, but it simply chooses to be average. Jonah Hill pretty much phones it in with his standard "hey look I'm a fat guy who doesn't give a shit" performance (although it may be his last fat role). Sam Rockwell as the main villain and J.B. Smoove as his right hand man are severely underused, and Method Man has a nice little role, and there could have been more done with a lot of the set pieces. Still, the kids in the movie actually do their jobs really well, and are the true stars of the film. There's more good here too, even with Jonah Hill, and a considerable amount of laughs.
Like we said, The Sitter is probably a movie you shouldn't pay twelve bucks to see. But it won't be a complete waste of time once it hits VOD, premium cable and rentals. There's some good here, but it's a little annoying how the movie just outright tells you that it doesn't care if it's bad or not, and that's a little off-putting. It's script is as standard as they go, to the point where the writers aren't even worth mentioning, and its actors don't exactly crank it up to 11 for the film, but, again, it's not to the point where it's enraging. The film is just kind of there.
Despite having one of the greatest promotional posters of all time (as seen above), "The Sitter" gets a very average 5.5 out of 10.