Within the first ten minutes of The Sitter, as a pre-diet Jonah Hill cycles through night time suburbia, it’s apparent that we are in the safe territory of the lucked-out nice boy comedy.
Within the first ten
minutes of The Sitter, as a pre-diet Jonah Hill cycles through night time
suburbia, it’s apparent that we are in the safe territory of the lucked-out
nice boy comedy. Pineapple Express
director David Gordon Green is
determined to stick to what he knows by taking his lazy, socially inept,
central character and dragging him through the city streets in pursuit of an
immoral goal. Instead of Seth Rogen
he’s downsized to Hill (Noah) and instead of a doe eyed James Franco at his heels he has three children he was due to look
after that evening.
The goal is coke, asked for by Noah’s “girlfriend” (mean
girl who uses the title for manipulation) for a “friend” (really for the
“girlfriend”). In any other
context this narrative could be shocking but apparently anything goes in this
genre and so a wide-eyed and aroused Noah bundles the adopted aggressive child,
the celebrity sweetheart child and the older troubled child (Where the Wild Things Are’s Max Record)
into the people wagon in pursuit of a little blow.
Our baddie is the normally wonderful Sam Rockwell, the drug dealer that Noah unintentionally screws
over. It’s here that the flaws of the The Sitter start to peep through. What
could be the use of a great actor lays waste to shamefully unfunny writing,
stripping him down to the passive aggressive, cripplingly stereotyped, gay man
with a childlike need for friends. What the story really could have used was a
fine villain instead of a shallow cliché.
Intended laughs play on the usual suspects; foul language,
toilet humour and kids engaging in criminal activity. Where the script does
pull its act together is in scenarios where Noah faces confrontation. In these
predicaments, the hero would perhaps use trickery or persuasion or a little
luck would come their way at just the right moment. Noah isn’t allowed any of
these and instead opts for straight honesty. No I don’t have your money. Yes I
was sick in your grandmother’s urn. This is a character who accepts
consequences, be it a threat or a punch in the face, and to watch this is
liberating and a little enviable.
Of course no one can stay mad at Noah for too long; with his
doughy presence and baby face this is one of the more morally sound of Green’s
creations. But for a film so conformed to the funny man down on his luck story,
the funny is pretty lacking. Between the pep talks and family feuds the gags
are tiresome bar a few chuckles at small people misbehaving and a happy little
contribution from Soul Baby. Every other trait is suitably present; killer
soundtrack, likeable star, pleasant ending. But because The Sitter is so
heavily associated with its comic predecessors, despite Hill’s efforts, it
feels like a watered-down retread.