If you thought The Sitter looked like Adventures in Babysitting with Jonah Hill, you’re on the right track. Take away some of the reasoning behind the premise, add a bit of School of Rock grown-up-to-kid-style humor, a handful of cute children, and plenty of Jonah Hill and what you get is an occasionally funny movie with a solid cast but not enough story or character development to really make it anything beyond an okay comedy.
Directed by David Gordon Green, The Sitter stars Jonah Hill as Noah, a suspended college student who’s in a rut, living with his mother and seeing a girl named Marisa (Ari Graynor), a barely-girlfriend who’s using him for whatever attention he’ll give her. As a favor to his mother, Noah agrees to babysit three kids. When Marisa begs Noah to pick up some cocaine for her and meet her at a party in the city, Noah agrees, bringing the kids with him. Naturally, mayhem ensues.
The biggest problem with the movie is the set-up. Why is this guy bringing three children into the city? Going into the city to buy drugs for a girlfriend who barely cares about him seems like a stupid thing to do on its own. Add three children to the mix and it really doesn’t make any sense. Since it’s kind of hard to get around that notion, the movie barely holds up. But it does have some redeeming qualities, among which are Sam Rockwell, Jonah Hill, and the three kids (Max Records, Landry Bender, and Kevin Hernandez).
Each of the kids have their own set of problems, and as Noah is actually a decent guy (with proven bad decision-making skills), he tackles them throughout the night. Slater (Records) has some emotional issues he’s trying to sort out. Blithe (Bender) is reckless and obsessed with celebutantes, and adopted child Rodrigo (Hernandez) disregards authority and likes to blow stuff up with cherry bombs. All three kids are cute and play their roles well. There’s also good chemistry between the actors and Hill, which really makes me wish there were a better story on which to hang these characters’ relationships. Sam Rockwell adds value to just about anything he’s in, and as the unstable drug dealer Karl, he definitely has some funny moments. But, again, it’s not enough to carry the film.
An appreciation for Jonah Hill is a requirement to get through The Sitter, but that’s probably a given. His character, like the film itself, feels a bit underdone and isn’t really set up enough to deliver a satisfying conclusion. In the end, what we get is a movie that never quite reaches its potential. I almost wish they had actually just aimed to remake Adventures in Babysitting with Hill as the lead, rather than going with the story they did for The Sitter. Given the cast and some of the humor, with a slightly more believable set-up The Sitter might have actually been a decent comedy. Instead, it falls just short of being average, offering some laughs and cute moments, but not much else.
The “Totally Irresponsible Edition” offers two discs, one of which is the Blu-ray, which includes both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film. The other is the DVD, which contains the theatrical version of the film and a digital copy of the unrated version of the movie.
This set doesn’t go overboard with bonus features. There’s no commentary, but you will get a number of behind-the-scenes looks at the film, including a gag reel, a making-of segment, and a funny featurette that shows Jonah Hill the producer, whose responsibilities apparently include humorous interactions with the parents of the kids. Additional bonus content includes extended scenes and an alternate ending.
It all amounts to an amusing assortment of content, none of which is especially exciting or substantial, but which offers a few reasons to laugh and allows us to get to know the cast, including the talented kids, a bit better.