80s revival with a foul mouth but this Sitter has a heart and a roly-poly Jonah Hill.
80s revival with a foul mouth but this Sitter has a
heart and a roly-poly Jonah Hill.
Many of you will
be too young to remember, or will simply have been spending your time watching
better things, but there was a movie, way back in 1987, that has kind of
acquired a certain cult status.
That film is Adventures In
Babysitting (or A Night On The Town as it became known), an almost John Hughes rip-off which saw Elisabeth Shue, before she turned to
prostitution in Leaving Las Vegas,
babysitting a group kids and finding herself thrust into a snowballing
adventure involving drugs, broken down cars, first loves and Thor. Yes you read that right, before he went all Avengers Assemble on us Thor and his
hammer made an appearance in Chris
‘Harry Potter and Home Alone’ Columbus’ adventure comedy. If anything the concept is so ripe for
ideas it seems surprising that it has taken so long for a film to remake/steal
heavily from the 80s venture, cue Jonah
Hill and his brand of Frat boy humour.
Noah (Jonah Hill)
is a bit of a waster, he’s dropped out of college lives at home with his mum,
has a ‘girlfriend’, Marisa (Ali Graynor),
who kindly allows him to perform sexual favours on her and is generally going
nowhere fast. So when his mother
asks him to look after the neighbour’s kids so she can go on a blind date he
reluctantly agrees. The problem is
the kids are a big old bag of crazy.
Youngest Blithe (Landry Bender)
has been watching far too much of the E Channel and wants to be a Paris Hilton
style tramp, recently adopted Rodrigo (Kevin
Hernandez) is a pyromaniac sociopath and Slater (Max Records) is a neurotic mess. So with Noah failing to control the kids in the house he
takes them out to score some drugs from dealer Karl (Sam Rockwell) in order to impress Marisa.
In Babysitting, The Sitter is little more than a series of entertaining
set-pieces strung together where one of the kids, or Hill, do something that
lands them in all sorts of do-do, in one case do-do is literally what lands them
in a mess, followed by how they get out of said situation. So we get Rodrigo letting off cherry
bombs in restaurant toilets, Blithe implying that she has been kidnapped in a
children’s clothes store and Slater having a nervous break-down because his best-friend
has stared hanging out with someone else.
Add to this Hill having to deal with all manner of cartoonish villains,
none less so than Rockwell, and there are points where you wonder if this
sitter may have gone a tad too far.
However, thanks mainly
to Hill, there are a lot of laughs to be had and more than a hefty dollop of
sentimental heart. The chemistry
between Hill and the three kids is fun, with South Park levels of kids swearing or being sworn at, and each
character has a cute, if predictable, arc to fulfill. Yes the comedy is broad and offensive; Karl’s insistence on
surrounding himself with some of the most stereotypical gay men (they could
easily be lifted from the Blue Oyster Bar of Police Academy fame) is one example, but you can overlook that
thanks to the dumbfound expression firmly planted on Hill’s face.
Of course this is
one of the last times we will get to see the larger version of Jonah Hill. Having lost all his weight for 21 Jump Street you hope that he doesn’t
lose his comedy power, like a Samson’s hair scenario, now he has gone all thin
on us. Here however there is no
need for concern. Hill carries the
film even through its more puerile moments with a wonderful dry delivery of
even the most cutting remarks.
Gone are the wild antics of Superbad,
instead he remains the calm as all around turns to chaos. The kids for the most part do their job
well. Bender brings an evil
princess quality to Blithe but still manages to turn the cutesy little darling
charms when the part demands it.
Hernandez is appropriately horrible, the kind of child you want to pick
up and shake into submission. And
then there’s Max Records, the little brat best known as the little brat from Where The Wild Things Are, on solid
form. Dressed, and acting like a
throw back from Wes Anderson’s The Royal
Tenebaums children, it is fun to see a young actor play camp and insecure
rather than loud and irritating.
There are moments
when you may wonder what on earth you’re watching, but as 80s throwbacks go The
Sitter ticks all the right boxes.
It won’t stay in the mind long but as for a forgettable few laughs on a
night in you could do a lot worse.