THE SITTER Review

I have long been a fan of the brand of humor Jonah Hill and his friends usually bring to the screen. He, along with his Apatow associates and Frat Pack colleagues form a comedy clique that I could watch produce films all day and devour each as they were cranked out of the movie factory. Needless to say, when the first red band trailer for "The Sitter" appeared online I was excited. The fact it was directed by David Gordon Green also surprised and at the same time worried me. The director has had a string of small success with lower budget indie films that are so far removed from his last three films its almost weird the guy has turned around and stuck to one genre. While "Pineapple Express" was a minor masterpiece of the stoner comedy genre (mostly in thanks to James Franco's performance) he floundered big time earlier this year with "Your Highness". The film was a missed opportunity of a mess and one of my biggest disappointments of the year. Walking into "The Sitter" I was cautious not to get my hopes up but couldn't help but to be hopeful that the great moments in the trailer were not all of the great moments in the film. That after Hill has had such a promising turn with "Moneyball" and what looks to be a great year on the horizon with both "21 Jump Street" and "Neighborhood Watch" coming out within four months of each other, I trusted this kind of last hoo-rah as his bigger self would be a no-holds barred kind of comedy that would sit comfortably on the shelf between "Superbad" and "Get Him to the Greek"; It will indeed sit comfortably and has its moments where it is laugh out loud funny, but by the end you find yourself slightly underwhelmed and wondering, "is that it?".

Noah Griffith readies himself for a night of baby-
sitting mayhem.
The story is simple and straightforward as it is essentially the R-rated version of "Adventures in Babysitting". We are introduced to Noah Griffith (Hill) as he pleasures Marisa (the always funny Ari Graynor) whom he likes to refer to as his girlfriend but it is clear he is anything but to her. Marisa gets what she wants and ditches, leaving Noah in the predicament of proposition from his single mom. For the first time in forever she is going out on a date set up by their neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Pedulla. The proposition comes in when the Pedulla's need a sitter for their three kids as they are attending the same event where Noah's mom will meet her date. Noah can be easily described as a failure; the guy dropped out of college and wants nothing more than to live off his mom while settled in front of the TV. He might have some daddy issues as well since his lives in the city with his new wife and kid (the new wife that was Noah's old babysitter). This dynamic has been a formula for everything the film sets up in the first five minutes and so when, in the middle of watching the kids, Marisa calls offering actual sex if Noah can bring her a "ticket" of cocaine he jumps.Thus leading to the piling of the three mis-matched kids in the mini van and our adventure has now begun.

Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), Blith (Landry Bender), and Slade
(Max Records) are somewhat appalled by what
Noah has put them through.
Naturally, the three children will play into the evolution of our main character throughout the night while each having their own indivdual issues that Noah will assist them with as well. Though it could have played out in a much cornier way (as the films this is mocking did so) "The Sitter" is surprisingly brash in approaching not only Noah's missteps in life but in correcting those that these kids are already beginning to take. The oldest, Slade (Max Records of Where the Wild Things Are), is a popular pretty boy who is forced into counseling and taking anti-depressants as he tries to suppress his gay urges. The film may take an outwardly liberal stance on the matter, but the politics of it shouldn't matter. This is a comedy and the fact it does address the issue of a young man dealing with this sexuality in such a straight forward and honest way is nothing but appealing. It is handled with just the right amount of stereotype and reassurance. The scene in which Noah comforts Slade after a meltdown is the most sincere in the whole film while also rendering some good laughs. Then there is Blithe (Landry Bender) who is influenced by the Paris Hilton's and Kim Kardashian's of the world as she aspires to be a famous celebrity. It is a nice commentary on the state of people who are famous for being famous and serves, if anything as a good lesson to young girls who get too caught up in the workings of Teen People. Finally, there is the adopted Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez) who has a soft spot for explosives, especially when they are in a toilet. Rodrigo is having trouble adjusting and puts Noah to the test immediately after the parents leave the house.

Maybe a party isn't the best place for fireworks...or is it?
"The Sitter" also employs supporting roles from Sam Rockwell as Karl, the drug dealer from which Noah was supposed to pick up his ticket. Rockwell is a riot we hardly get to know as his character is only seen for a total of probably fifteen minutes but then again the movie zips by with only an 80-minute running time so we feel he is a more integral part of the story. The run-ins where Noah gets funny looks when he has to buy Blithe a new pair of underwear and the scene in which that confrontation leads to featuring Method Man is one of the best of the film. I could hardly stop laughing when Hill took the youngsters into an African American bar and played it cool and honest with the people around him. That is where it seemed to make sense. "The Sitter" isn't a movie about leaving an impression, it is a quick, comedy escape that offers a riff on one of the popular movie genres of the 80's. Director Green, though not setting it in the 80's, gets the tone and vibe right while also making the film look a little time tainted. The music choices are on point as the soundtrack features Slick Rick and Raphael Saadiq and references aplenty to El DeBarge and Bel Biv Devoe. It offers a groove to the concept comedy that just feels cool. You won't come out of the movie changed, and at times the overall experience feels a little rushed but you'll appreciate the laughs it gave you while ultimately feeling like you could watch the movie again and again. And how bad can it be if it leaves you wanting more? Don't ask Noah though, because he ultimately learns his own lessons and gets the right motivation to get his act together. Nothing like a good night of watching children to change your life.