Feb 1 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge
THE Sitter is a comedy about college student Noah (Jonah Hill) being talked into babysitting the kids next door.
Noah’s night turns out to be even wilder than he could possibly imagine as young Slater (Max Records), Blithe (Landry Bender) and Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez) create havoc.
The Sitter arrives with a delayed release (it was originally due out last summer) that sees lead Hill’s new slim-line figure absent on-screen.
The babysitting comedy has been on the backburner (maybe for a reason!) and The Sitter is more Mr Nanny (horrendous) than Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (great fun).
Director David Gordon Green has an enjoyable (Pineapple Express) and painfully average (Your Highness) back catalogue in comedy but fills his latest effort with too few genuine laughs and little focus on what type of film he wants to present.
He can’t decide if he’s making a lewd, acidic adult comedy (especially evident early on) or a sweet family comedy full of life-affirming speeches.
As soon as Noah and the kids visit a bizzare drug den full of bodybuilders run by Sam Rockwell’s dealer Karl, the movie finally falls off the cliff after dangling on the edge for a while.
Debut writers Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka’s script tries to cram too much in, and spends too much time on Karl’s pursuit of Noah.
The dialogue is pretty coarse but cursing by kids and to kids is nothing new and when Slater says at one point “I can’t decide if this is funny or not”, he sums up how most of the audience are feeling.
Scenes involving Noah in the children’s area of a clothing store and being confronted by a gang in a barroom are more bizarre than humorous (who knew getting punched in the face could earn you instant street cred?)
It’s a pity the material is so poor because the cast, a coasting, strange Rockwell apart, give it a decent shot.
Hill follows up his impressive, Oscar-nominated, serious turn in Moneyball with a return to the genre that made him famous (Superbad, Get Him to the Greek).
He’s got the put-upon man-child role down to a fine art and interacts well with the children.
The kids provide most of the laughs. Records, ace in 2009’s Where the Wild Things Are, is given an interesting plot strand as the anxious Slater.
Bender and Hernandez make their big screen debuts. Bender’s make-up covered fashionista is more than a match for Noah (although she’s wasted towards the end) and Hernandez’s crazed, violent youth shows an uncanny flair for explosives (yes, really).
But what few laughs come from the kids’ antics give way to a tiresome on-the-run finale involving Karl and Noah’s hugely unlikeable girlfriend Marisa (Ari Graynor).
The Sitter is a strange concoction. It may have worked better as charming family fare but given its mixed tone, waste of young and old talent and lack of humour, you’d be better off staying in with the kids than going to see this disappointment.
Oh, and the best film about babysitting? Hallowe’en...
Rating - 5 out of 10.