"It's all been done before, although granted, perhaps not as badly as this for a good long while..."
In order to successfully produce a film that is set over the course of just one-night, film-makers must find a way to engage the viewer, presenting a blend of quick witted drama and intrigue that allows for an entire story to be told and developed in the short space of a feature-length film. Jonah Hill, the lead and executive producer of The Sitter should be fully aware of this given his starring role in the triumphant Superbad, yet this is far from hitting the heights of the 2007 hit comedy, although such a title would seem quite fitting.
David Gordon Green's production focuses on Noah (Hill), an indolent loser, with the task of babysitting three challenging children as a favour to his mother. Of course Noah hates children, but in order to keep his mum happy and to make some petty cash, he opts in, but faces a night of incredible unpredictability, and three tiresome kids.
Noah's sort-of-girlfriend Marisa (Ari Graynor) is out at a party, but wants Noah to buy cocaine and bring it to her in return for sex. Noah therefore meets drug-dealer Karl (Sam Rockwell), but thanks to the youngest of the three children Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), a devilish troublemaker adopted from El Salvador, who steals some of Karl's possessions, Noah must then pay Karl back thousands of dollars he doesn't have, running into all sorts of trouble on his quest for the money.
In the meantime, Noah must deal with the other two children, Slater (Max Records) and Blithe (Landry Bender), both facing their own personal problems, as the latter has been brain-washed by contemporary celebrity culture, whilst Slater suffers from anxiety attacks.
The premise itself certainly has potential. Recent productions such as Superbad and A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas have proved that ludicrous, illogical comedies set over one night can certainly work, and open up to many possibilities. Yet right from the very opening scene, it became evident this wasn't going to be an intelligent or gratifying experience for the viewer.
The story only excels in ridiculousness, attempting to cover far too much ground, disregarding the simplicity that allows such features to succeed. Nonsensicality in film can work well, yet only if the feature at hand remains faithful to its stupidity. The Sitter, however, attempts to take itself seriously at points and instead of revelling in absurdity, creates a conflict within itself with a senseless sentimentality.
Spawning predictability in the storyline, the sentimental scenes taking place between Noah and the three children are cringe-worthy and ultimately quite difficult to watch. Each receives their own personal pep-talk from Noah, the most laughable being that of Noah's conversation with Slater, who takes pills to help him with anxiety. However, it appears that it's not anxiety, but homosexuality that Slater is struggling to come to terms with. An uncomfortably tenuous link at best. All three kids are highly annoying and badly written, proving to be as wearing to the audience as they are to their babysitter.
On a more positive note, Hill is relatively funny in the role of Noah, delivering a handful of comical one-liners, with his typical style of looking almost taken aback with his own words when speaking. The other slight positive being that of the Hip-Hop infused soundtrack, although despite supplying a mellowed rhythm to the antics presented, it sadly doesn’t prove to be anywhere near enough of a saving grace.
The Sitter is ultimately a poorly made feature, with a host of reprocessed jokes and characters with stereotypes so strong that they merely provoke a rolling of the eyes. It's all been done before, although granted, perhaps not as badly as this for a good long while.
Jonah Hill who had become somewhat unfortunately renowned for being rather rotund, has since lost loads of weight, and The Sitter is the final film bearing the actor in his larger frame. However, as his new appearance deems him largely unrecognisable, perhaps that isn't the worst thing for his career after this particular feature - one I'm sure he'd like to forget.