Jonah Hill is a talented comic actor whose career has seen him star in a host of Judd Apatow produced films and writer and performing on the legendary US TV show Saturday Night Live. His breakout performance was as a foul-mouthed teenager in Superbad and since then his career has moved in a steady trajectory with films such as Get Him to the Greek and in 2011 he gave his best performance to date in the excellent sports drama Moneyball. This lead to a host of nominations and new, more streamlined body have heralded a new stage in his career as a man on the verge of the Hollywood A-List. The Sitter is his last film as a 'larger gentleman' and he revisits the type of character that first made him popular. That of the foul-mouthed slacker.
The plot of The Sitter sees Noah Griffith (Hill) agree to babysit three young children for one night, being, as he is, attracted to their mother. While there he receives a phone call offering him sex and he decides to take the kids out with him to a party and through a series of contrivances finds himself mixed up with drug dealers, shady businessmen and a host of dodgy characters, notably Karl (the often excellent Sam Rockwell). Noah, with the help of the kids slowly begins to learn that sometimes there is more to life that sex.
The Sitter is directed by David Gordon Green who was clearly looking for a bankable film after the commercially and critically devastated Your Highness. In many ways, The Sitter is a step in the right direction. Take a rising comic star, put him in a vehicle that pitches itself somewhere between Adventures in Babysitting and Superbad. Populate it with some rather amusing child stars, a low budget and hopefully you can create a film that makes money.
Sadly The Sitter is nothing more than that. It's a line on an accountant's spreadsheet. The little laughs are obvious and lack any real impact. The performances by the cast are by the numbers and you can really see that not one of them cares about the role. It should be noted that Slater (Max Records) gives a good account of himself. Like the aforementioned Adventures in Babysitting, The Sitter attempts to marry teen comedy with sentimental coming-of-age revelations. On the most part it fails, but there are some standout scenes, like Hill swearing at the kids for instance, which is embarrassingly funny.
In the cold light of day, The Sitter will be seen as a down-point in Jonah Hill's career and a high point in David Gordon Green's. As a comedy it fails to raise enough laughs and pitches itself rather awkwardly between sentimental and gross-out in a way that American Pie succeeded but this fails. Overall it's just disappointing.
Rating: * 1/2