Fox // 2011 // 81 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 27th, 2012
Would you trust him with your kids?
Welcome to the worst version ever of The Babysitter's Club.
Noah Griffith (Jonah Hill, Moneyball) is an unemployed, twenty-something slacker who spends his days squatting on his single mother's couch and trying to sexually please his quasi-girlfriend Marisa (Ari Graynor, What's Your Number?). When his mother gets the chance to mingle with friends who want to set her up on a date, she's thrilled. There's one catch: Someone needs to watch their kids. Noah is wrangled into babysitting three obnoxious children: make-up obsessed Blithe (Landry Bender), neurotic Slater (Max Records), and the El Salvador born Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez). When Noah's girlfriend asks him to pick up some drugs and meet her for a little one-on-one, Noah jumps at the chance...with these kids in tow. On the way, he finds himself outrunning a bizarre drug dealer (Sam Rockwell, Moon), while attempting to keep the children from making a complete disaster of every location they visit.
Let's all be adults about this and face the truth: The Sitter is a really just a remake of the semi-classic '80s comedy Adventures in Babysitting. It's hard to believe writers Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka weren't sued for plagiarism considering all the Xeroxed ideas and beats. A babysitter who's too old to be watching children? Check. Obnoxious kids with weird quirks? Check. Running into parents at their social outing? Check. Intrepid babysitter and kids being chased by inner city bad guys with guns? Hero's realization that the significant other is really not good for them? The moment where babysitter finally helps kids discover their true selves? Check, check, aaaaaaaaand check.
The main difference between the two films is that whereas Adventures in Babysitting had amusing characters and silly (but fun) situations, The Sitter feels as stagnant as a glass of water sitting on the moon. This is a movie that goes absolutely nowhere, even as it's bouncing around from location to location. This project sat on a shelf for well over a year (made painfully obvious by star Jonah Hill's hefty physique, compared to his now slim fame), and for good reason: it's an absolute clunker.
The biggest failing of The Sitter is that it has no likable characters...at all. Jonah Hill plays a sad sack with a few funny lines, but not the least bit endearing. The movie even goes so far as to insult its audience by asking us to embrace Noah at the end of the film AFTER he's stolen cars and diamonds, put underage children at risk, and visited with a drug dealer to buy coke for his girlfriend (who he's trying to sex with her...while the kids wait in the car). Noah is a deplorable schlub that needs to be thrown into jail. The children are wildly erratic caricatures of troubled youth, each with an issue (homosexuality, blowing up toilets, acting too grown up) they must work through. The problem is I didn't care about any of them. A movie can falter, when it makes the kids horrible terrors, but expects us to care once the emotional clichés kick in. The Sitter is no exception.
Director David Gordon Green knows his way around comedy (Pineapple Express is a personal favorite), but he's completely lost his bearings here. It feels like the script was in a state of flux while the cameras were rolling. The execution is so boring and formulaic it's a wonder Fox didn't just dump it straight to DVD. How many times can a kid blow up a toilet until it isn't funny anymore? I promise you, this question is answered during. What's not answered: Will Jonah Hill -- now an Oscar nominee -- stop making crap like this and move onto higher quality projects?
I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh at all. A few moments had me giggling, especially when a dinosaur egg full of cocaine exploded all over Noah's face. I also enjoyed Sam Rockwell's performance as a clearly gay drug dealer; Rockwell is one of those rare actors who can elevate almost any material just by showing up. Sadly, that's the only praise I can heap on The Sitter. It's highly unmemorable and unworthy of your 90 minutes.
The Sitter (Blu-ray) is presented in 1.85:1/1080p high definition widescreen, with an image that's good but not great. The visuals showcase a heavy grain, which is surprising for a movie that's only a year old. It doesn't take away from the experience, but it is noticeable. Otherwise, the colors and black levels look appropriate if uninspired. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix offers a fair amount of rear channel action, mostly during the outdoor scenes and car chases, and the ambient sounds are well-placed and natural. Also included are French and Spanish 5.1 language tracks, as well as English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
The bonus features include 25 minutes worth of deleted, alternate, and extended scenes; a brief gag reel; an improv montage ("Sits-N-Giggles"); a weird beat-boxing short ("For Your Consideration"); a couple of decent featurettes ("The Making of The Sitter," "Jonah the Producer"); a theatrical trailer; and the now standard DVD and Digital copies.
It's impossible to recommend The Sitter because it doesn't have anything of value save for a few cheap laughs and Sam Rockwell. Watching The Sitter it's like taking a placebo: it won't hurt you, but it's not going to do you any good, either. Revisit Adventures in Babysitting to see what real fun with a far more attractive babysitter looks like.
Guilty and sentenced to house arrest.
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes
* Gag Reel
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy
* Official Site