In The Sitter, Jonah Hill and company have taken the babysitting movie and brought it to another level.
Hill plays Noah, a slacker who is having trouble finding his way. He has been kicked out of college and is living at home with his single mother. When she has the opportunity to go on her first date in years, Noah reluctantly agrees to babysit her friend’s kids so the double date can happen. Then, as Hill told us in our interview, “all hell breaks loose.”
Some may think the film sounds a bit like Adventures in Babysitting, but there could not be more of a difference between the films other than their premise.
Hill has more than perfected his comic timing over the years, but it is a joy watching him interact with the three children who play his charges over this fateful night. He is at the top of his game in The Sitter and it is largely why the film works. The actor brings both a silliness and sensitivity to the role that permeates the film.
The child actors who play the kids he’s sitting, Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are), Landry Bender and Kevin Hernandez, match Hill note for note and their casting could not have been more perfect. If the child actors in a babysitting movie miss a note, the whole thing goes awry. Sure, that’s a heavy burden for actors whose combined age is less than 20, but in The Sitter, Bender, Records and Hernandez are up for the task.
Babysitter movie history is a limited genre, but for fans of films such as Adventures in Babysitting, they could be quick to cry foul for essentially remaking a classic in their minds. The Sitter is R-rated, which immediately sets it apart. Plus, none of those films possess the combination that director David Gordon Green has brought to The Sitter. It is hilarious and heartfelt. The pacing is as even as you could ask of a film. There are as many hold your hands over your eyes “I can’t believe it” moments as there are almost-tear-producing compassionate scenes that fill The Sitter with a boisterous spirit.
Sam Rockwell steals the show as a drug dealer that Hill encounters on his night with the kids. Hill’s girlfriend has made a request and it is so compelling that he puts the kids in the minivan and heads into New York City on a quest that is totally self-serving. Rockwell is known for his drama, but his comic chops are on full display. He is much more emotionally sappy than any drug dealer ever portrayed on film to hilarious results.
Director Green (Pineapple Express) takes what could have been a one-note comedy and gives it so much more. It may not be one of the top 10 comedies of 2011, but it just misses the cut.
Should you hire The Sitter? When in need of chuckles and from-the-heart smiles, hire Hill and The Sitter.