No Adventure In Babysitting
2.5 out of 5 popcorn buckets
Director: David Gordon Green
Writers: Brian Gatewood, Alessandro Tanaka
Cast: Jonah Hill, Sam Rockwell, Max Records, Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez, Ari Graynor, J.B. Smoove, Kylie Bunbury
SYNOPSIS: Suspended college student Noah Griffith decides to get off his butt to babysit three kids in order to help his divorced mother go out for a nice evening. Little does he know that a request from his girlfriend will lead him and the kids on a wild ride.
REVIEW: David Gordon Green, director of Pineapple Express and Your Highness, sets his sights on a movie about mishaps in childcare. From a script by relative newcomers Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka, director David Gordon Green looks to make the next great babysitting flick to rival Elizabeth Shue's 1987 Adventures in Babysitting and Christina Applegate's 1991 Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead.
Noah Griffith (Jonah Hill, Get Him to the Greek) finds himself college school-less and living with his mother without a job or any motivation to make something of his young life. When his divorced mother's opportunity to met a new beau at a dinner party is threatened because the Pedulla family needs a babysitter, Noah begrudgingly relented to babysitting their three children, phobic Slater (max Records, Where the Wild Things Are), celebritant wannabe Blithe (Landry Bender), and recently adopted Venezuelan explosives lover Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez). During a early evening of boundary crossing and authority bucking by the kids, Noah gets a call from his not-so-girlfriend Marisa for the promise of sex if he picks up and pays for some nose candy for her at a party she is attending. Weighing the options, Noah packs up the Pedulla minivan with the kids and begins a journey that starts with exploding toilets and ends with carjacking, car chases, gun fights, and revelations.
Filled with crude language and lots of sexual references, The Sitter is certainly not geared to kids, no matter how many unaccompanied minors are strapped into the back seats of the family soccer mobile. Jonah Hill manages to be both crude and cuddly, childishly naive while painfully insightful. The kids, each with their own too-grown-up problems, funnel their frustrations at the novice Noah with barbed bravado. Noah's girlfriend Marisa (Ari Graynor, What's Your Number?) is to die for at the start of the film, but ends up someone you want to kill by the end. The highlights of the film? Drug kingpin due Karl with a K (Sam Rockwell, Cowboys & Aliens) and Julio (J.B. Smoove, Date Night), and Soul Baby (Reggie Alvin Green, Coney Island Baby). Rockwell is disarming, maniacal, and in desperate need of friends more than eight. Smoove, as Rockwell's wingman and business partner, enables Karl at every turn, probably fearful of any stray retribution. And Green's Soul Baby, lends a little swagger and jazz cool as the doorman of a downtown New York pool hall.
At some times funny and silly, at other times foul and crude, The Sitter is a film that you would expect Jonah Hill to star in - in 2007. With recent films under his belt like Moneyball and Get Him to the Greek, I expect more from Hill but see why he would return to the type of films that he started off with. The pace of the story is fine, but the situations that Noah and his charges find themselves in become increasingly far fetched and coincidental. Even the supposed love interest Roxanne (Kylie Bunbury, Prom) gets minimal screen and scene time with Noah. Maybe that's for the best since Noah has his hands full with all of the other problems on his plate.
The Sitter is not the 80s-styled formula flick that we remember with the late decade Adventures in Babysitting, although some of the soundtrack is reminiscent. The heady days of good natured ill-advised childcare hi-jinks is so last century. Today, The Sitter, with all of its foul-mouth angst seems to be the standard for this century. Oh, to be young again.
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