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Review - The Sitter

18 Jan 2012
Jonah Hill babysits some children, with added jokes and cuss words
Twenty something layabout Noah (Jonah Hill) takes on the babysitting duties for three small kids to help out his mother but, like, really wants to go to this party and stuff so brings them along on an ill advised night time adventure in bad behaviour.

It can’t have escaped your notice that I was less than impressed by the entirety that was Your Highness. It appeared on my worst movie list of 2011 and was, in general terms, a pile of poo. So I was less than excited for director David Gordon Green’s next effort, a foul mouthed baby sitter movie starring Jonah ‘oh look at me being outrageous’ Hill.

Perhaps because my expectations were so low, I actually found The Sitter mildly entertaining. It’s not destined to be a comedy classic by any means but it at least has the good sense to keep things moving so quickly that if a joke falls flat you won’t have to wait long for another one to roll around and try to elicit a cheap laugh.

There’s nothing sophisticated about The Sitter, relying as it does on the supposed fact that cursing kids (or cursing in front of kids) is just about the funniest damn thing ever. But Hill lands some decent off the cuff remarks and the series of events is generally outrageous enough to be entertaining without becoming so outlandish that the audience checks out.

Green and writers Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka also pepper the film with oddly heavy dramatic moments, like when Hill confronts the father who abandoned him or he tackles the issues of his three charges in a refreshingly forthright way. These moments work extremely well and offer a nice contrast the constant dick jokes.

The Sitter has been criticised for its meagre running time and at just 81 minutes, you’ll find TV dramas which will last you longer. But at least the film has the good sense to not drag out its set up or denouement, zipping through plot points like everyone was in a massive hurry to move on to a more significant project.

Hill anchors the film well enough and it’s quite a shock to compare his current physique to that from The Sitter, which shot in late 2010. If you’re a fan of his rambling style, you’ll find a lot to like here and the scattergun approach means most viewers will at least force a smile. The kids are excellent – especially young Max Records who was so impressive in Where the Wild Things Are and the old before her time Landry Bender. And whenever the film dips in eccentricity, the just awesome Sam Rockwell pops in to liven things up as an enthusiastic drug dealer with a gang of body building henchmen.

The Sitter isn’t smart or consistently hilarious and sometimes feels like it’s been hashed together in an afternoon but if you’re not fussy about your giggles there’s some decent material here, the drama is well meaning and the brevity refreshing in a world where comedies too often push past the two hour mark.