out of Five
Running time: 81
David Gordon Green's latest comedy stays watchable thanks to a likeable performance from Jonah Hill and a commendably short running time, but it's also nowhere near as funny as it ought to be and is badly let down by some dodgy racial stereotyping.
What's it all about?
Directed by David Gordon Green (Your Highness, Pineapple Express), The Sitter is presumably intended as a throwback to the likes of Adventures in Babysitting or Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead. Jonah Hill stars as twenty-something slacker Noah Griffith, who agrees to babysit anxiety-riddled Slater (Max Records), fame-obsessed Blithe
(Landry Bender) and adopted junior arsonist Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez)
so that his kind-hearted mother (Jessica Hecht) can go out on a date.
However, things quickly go wrong when Noah's would-be girlfriend Marisa (Ari Graynor) calls and drunkenly promises that she'll finally sleep with him if he picks up some drugs from her dealer (Sam Rockwell as Karl) and delivers them to the party she's at. Noah duly drags the kids along on the drug deal and they end up in a whole mess of trouble after Rodrigo steals and breaks a fake dinosaur egg (full of cocaine), leading Karl to demand that Noah comes up with $10,000 by midnight.
Jonah Hill (still fat at this point – fans of the actor will know he's since lost an enormous amount of weight) delivers a likeable performance that keeps the film watchable and stays the right side of
sympathetic despite some poor decision-making on his part. There's also strong support from all three child actors, particularly Max Records (Where The Wild Things Are), who delivers a sweetly sensitive performance as Slater.
The main problem with the film is that it just isn't funny enough – there are a handful of good lines and one stand-out moment (an over-too-quickly fight scene) but that's basically it, while some
half-hearted toilet humour (can we please erase the word “sharted” from the English language and pretend it never happened?) falls painfully flat. The script also falls foul of some excruciating racial
stereotyping and the scenes where Noah supposedly ingratiates himself with a gang of car thieves pretty much stops the film in its tracks as they're both unconvincing and irritating to watch.
On top of that, the film completely wastes both Sam Rockwell as Karl (the Red Band trailer indicates he had some better lines that got cut) and JB Smoove as Karl's number two, Julio.
The Sitter is watchable enough and it earns points for an uncharacteristically short running time, but it never generates any decent laughs and only scrapes by thanks to Hill's likeable performance.