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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Movie Review: THE SITTER


"Keep it in control, baby. Tears, no fears, man."
-- Noah Griffith

The Sitter is a 2011 comedy directed by David Gordon Green that offers a story of an inexperienced babysitter as he attempts to make it through one night with three upper-class kids. When his mom's friend desperately needs a babysitter, Noah Griffith (Jonah Hill) reluctantly agrees to watch the family's three children: the fearful Slater (Max Records), the wannabe celebrity Blithe (Landry Bender), and the adopted Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez). Hoping for an easy night in, Noah is soon contacted by his alleged girlfriend Marisa (Ari Graynor), who is hoping that he can score her some drugs then find her at a party in New York City. Propelled by the hope for physical relations, Noah decides to take the kids on his trek to drug dealer Karl (Sam Rockwell). As one can imagine, everything happens to go wrong, and Noah soon finds himself fighting not only for his life but for the lives of the three kids he's vowed to keep safe.

If you feel like you've heard this story before, don't worry - you'd probably be right. The Sitter almost feels like a mash-up of a babysitting movie and 2007's Superbad, but it doesn't necessarily offer the same level of comedy. From the moment the film started, it all seemed a little bit cheap. The humor was a little bit off, and although there were a few chuckles here and there, I never actually laughed during any point of the film.

The biggest issue with The Sitter has to be its screenplay. Sure, we get quite a few twists and turns throughout the storyline, but there really isn't anything all that new. It's almost as though the screenwriters chose to go with as rote a story as possible, hoping that the actors themselves would be able to give the film a little bit of life. Unfortunately, most of the leading adult characters - Hill's, Graynor's and Rockwell's, to be specific - are not that well-written, and I was left scratching my head at how they could have possibly decided to give this movie a go. And so, with a predictable storyline and so-so dialogue between the characters, we're just not getting a strong written component to this film.

That's not to say that the cast doesn't do its best to try and make ends meet. Jonah Hill brings his standard performance, all the way down to his near-trademark shake of the head followed by the wide-eyed stare. I feel like I've seen this character so many times since Hill made his big splash in the aforementioned Superbad that I've grown just a tad bit weary of it. Directors continue to come back to him, but until he can prove to me that he has a little bit of range (which he ever-so-slightly showed in 2011's Moneyball), I'm going to be a little bit wary of his performances. Graynor and Rockwell start out well, but their characters ultimately prove annoying about halfway through the film; however, I blame this on the screenplay rather than the acting. There's only so much that an actor can do when a screenplay is this poor. I did think that our child actors did a decent job. Max Records, who some of you may remember from 2009's Where the Wild Things Are, gives a strong performance as a young teen coming to terms with his personality, and Landry Bender offers most of the films stronger bits of comedy. That being said, however, there's still not a lot going on in terms of the acting performances.

Overall, The Sitter is probably a movie that you should avoid unless you can somehow watch it for free. If you're a fan of Jonah Hill, this'll be right up your alley, but even then, it's by no means one of his better films. As I said before, The Sitter offered me a couple of chuckles here and there, but there was no point where I actually felt the need to laugh. That's not a good sign for a film attempting to be a comedy.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: D-
1.5 Thumbs Down

1 comment:

  1. Again, TMG i bet you are right on target. I for one am kind of sick of Jonah Hill (although as you say he is good in Moneyball, so I will def. see that. They take an actor who is in a "hit movie" and then play him over and over again until we're almost sick of him. I think Seth Rogen too is in the same category. Although he can be very funny (I was appalled by what he said at the Golden Globes, call me old fashioned) he can be very raunchy and I mean very. Hill was also in "Cyrus" with John C. Reilly (who is a good actor) and that movie to me, was just blah. My husband and I thought it would be funny but I don't think we laughed more than once. It's nice he lost weight though. Come on Jonah and Seth - Jonah take better roles and Seth - clean up your act!!!!