The Sitter is a deflated comedy robbed of all laughs, jokes, and originality. It knows formula well, but doesn't know where to go from there. It also knows how to pick a lovable lead actor who is consistently funny in everything he does. It's the second film to be released by independent filmmaker David Gordon Green this next to Your Highness. Both will earn a special place on my list of worst films for 2011.
Even since Your Highness, David Gordon Green has successfully put me in a state of never-ending puzzlement. Here's a guy that has made back to back acclaimed independent features, and now, chooses to use his time directing lame, directionless comedies without wit or a soul. The Sitter takes an already mediocre premise and refuses to push it off its feet into something more original or fresh. It understands the formula inside out, but proceeds to disregard everything else.
Noah (Hill) is a layabout who is lured into babysitting three children for his mom's friend so they can go to a party together. The kids are sexual confused Slater (Record), the pint sized fourth Kardashian Blithe (Bender), and the rebellious Latino Rodrigo (Hernandez). What kind of children are these? They're not normal children. They feel like real people shrunk down to fit pint sized kids. Regardless, their roles aren't at all funny.
Soon after arriving at the job and discovering the chaotic duty behind it, Noah's girlfriend Marisa (Graynor) calls asking him to deliver her cocaine at a party and she'll reward him with sex. Noah tries to get cocaine, but Rodrigo winds up stealing an egg full of cocaine, costing Noah over $10,000.
Oh, and I'm not even going to continue from there. The film is relentless in its gags and events, none of them even remotely realistic or the least bit funny. The biggest laughs, in fact, aren't even from Jonah Hill, but J.B. Smoove who you may recognize as Leon from Curb Your Enthusiasm. I actually would've adored the idea of him playing the babysitter much more than Hill. Don't you hate it when that happens? In the same movie, you find an actor who is playing the secondary character, but you wind up liking him more than the actor playing primary character and wish the film went through some sort of star reversal? The endangerment of the kids is sickening, the jokes appallingly unfunny, the setups are outlandish, and the sentimentality the film tries to shoot for at the end is deplorable. We just saw a man put these children through hell, he's unapologetic throughout the entire film, and now he wants to make a complete three-sixty and get on their good side.
Is this as bad as Green's Your Highness? It's close. Your Highness at least had the ability to have me stay frustrated for several hours after watching the film. I got over The Sitter's abashed nature quickly, but felt saddened and cheated. I was hoping that Green would seek redemption in the character and everything wouldn't go the way it was supposed to. Green isn't the director who stays inside the lines, so I was hoping he'd make a smarter comedy here.
The Sitter is an exercise is cheap filmmaking. It relies on lackluster stereotypes, recycled jokes, and caricatures to function inside its dead formula. It's a miserable comedic workout.
Starring: Jonah Hill, Ari Graynor, Sam Rockwell, Method Man, Kevin Hernandez, Max Records, and Landry Bender. Directed by: David Gordon Green.