FILM: The Sitter Review (*)

Posted: December 9, 2011 in Film, Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

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The Sitter is one of the year’s worst movies and the shame is too many people won’t know it. Do not be fooled by all the early symptoms of a rousing Judd Apatow comedy: heavy cursing, illegal drugs, and a plump Jonah Hill. Take away the fleeting intrigue of the film’s premise, and this Superbad-Pineapple Express hybrid copycat will lack the heart, the laughs, or any sign of a competent script. The only audience this David Gordon Green movie can appease are those juvenile at heart, looking for a cheap laugh at an expensive cost.

The film stars Hill as Noah, a college student who is baited into babysitting the neighbor’s three children: a stern adolescent with an early liking for other boys, a foul-mouthed princess, and an exchange student with Tony Soprano-like tendencies. Can’t you see it? A bunch of studio wigs in Hollywood plotting together these characters like a Family Guy episode. What starts out in a suburban home winds up in New York’s most dangerous pool halls and fanciest nightclubs. Absurdity and hilarity are supposed to ensue. But it didn’t.

For the makers of The Sitter, there is nothing funnier than a fat guy taking care of three naughty kids with stereotypes stronger than a Carlos Mencia standup routine. None of the characters offer any real soul or personality. But the worst part — they’re not funny. Slater (Max Records) is a grown-up version of Max Records in Where the Wild Things Are, except he’s no longer cute. That’s the problem with child actors. Hit puberty, and adorable evolves into annoying. Blithe (Landry Bender) is like Betty White — someone unexpected that cusses up a storm. It’s too bad Bender doesn’t have decades of comedic experience to nail her comedic timing. And Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez) has the potential to take back racial relations several years.

As for Hill, he admittedly does his best to deliver the few laughs he can with the superficially thin script. But without a suitable supporting cast to develop an engaging mode of chemistry, Noah comes off as an unlikable character who baffles the audience with his decisions (see: take kids on a joyride to find cocaine). In previous Apatow comedies, absurd plot lines are forgiven when there’s enough charm and likability with the main duos — Seth & Evan (Superbad), Peter & Sydney (I Love You, Man), Ben & Alison (Knocked Up). There’s no such tandem here, just a one-man show — a sad, forgettable going-away party for the frighteningly obese version of Mr. Hill.

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