So last year, director David Gordon Green released two films. One was the R-rated fantasy/comedy Your Highness, which was mostly hated by everyone except myself and a few others. The other was The Sitter, a confusingly unoriginal and bland film, which was mostly hated by everyone including myself. David Gordon Green came from directing fantastic indie dramas for the most part (All the Real Girls, Undertow), thought of by some as a young Terrance Malick. Then he directed Pineapple Express (another film I actually really enjoy quite a bit), which some are saying “broke” him as a director. Regardless of where Gordon Green’s career may go (for the record, he has also done excellent work on the HBO series Eastbound & Down), The Sitter still stands as a bafflingly bad movie, featuring Jonah Hill in his final “hefty” performance.
The Sitter is the story of slacker Noah (Jonah Hill), who has been suspended from college and spends days lazing around, when his “girlfriend” isn’t requiring his needs for her own…self-pleasuring. The film takes place over the course of one long day/night, as Noah is forced into taking a babysitting job, which leads to horrible situations. First up, let’s introduce the kids Noah will be responsible for. There is Blithe (Landry Bender), who is obsessed with celebrity-based pop culture and what’s “hot” right now. Then there is Slater (Max Records), who seems to have many confusing issues regarding who he wants to hang out with. Then there is Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), who is the explosion-obsessed, adopted child.
The night really kicks off when Noah receives a call from his supposed girlfriend, Marisa (Ari Graynor), who invites him to a party, claiming that she is ready to have actual sex with him. However, she also needs Noah to score her some coke as well. To do this, Marisa sets up a meet with Noah and her friend, the owner of a body building shop and giant hothead, Karl (Sam Rockwell), who deals cocaine. Noah agrees, leading to him packing up the kids in the family minivan and heading into the city. They meet up with Karl, but a series of events lead to Noah accidentally stealing a large supply of Karl’s drugs and having Karl and his partner Julio (J.B. Smooth) chase after them. Noah has this and plenty of other disastrous adventures to deal with for the rest of the night.
I was humored enough by the trailer for this movie to want to check it out, but having missed in it in theaters, getting the chance to see it on Blu-ray was something that could have went either way for me. I was aware of the fact that it was very negatively received and flopped pretty hard, yet I find the people involved to be talented and, as I said, the trailer amused me. Well, it turned out to be bad news for me, as I found this to be a case of everything that made me smile in the trailer was about the only thing that made me smile as I watched the film. The Sitter is kind of a mess, which takes all of the effort put forth by the filmmakers and actors involved and blends it into a film where the ingredients clearly exists, but somehow nearly every choice that was made to maximize the comedic output was the wrong one.
The premise is a decent one, which I have seen exercised well before in films like the decent, but charmingly comedic Adventures in Babysitting. The premise is also one that has not been done to death, which is what made me somewhat excited for the idea of pursuing a modern take on the “babysitter gets into crazy adventures” comedy sub-genre, with an R-rated edge. However, nothing really clicks and so many of the jokes made me either roll my eyes or wonder how much fun the cast was having while filming, since it seemed like making the movie must have been more fun than watching it.
Jonah Hill should have made for a solid lead. He is in full vulgar mode in this film, despite spending a majority amount of his time hanging around with young children. He does exactly what one would expect, except it just kind of feels hollow this time around. I would say it’s most likely due to the fact that there’s not much of a character. Hill’s character is more a joke machine, full of one-liners, which can be entertaining, but those moments are accompanied by an overall weirdness of the film, which has random tonal issues, where suddenly Noah will reflect on reasons of what happened to his college career or his broken family. The attitude of this Jonah Hill character is essentially counter-acted by the nature of the film, which wants to have fun, while shoving moments of sincerity down our throats, but then also cram in a bunch of other weird stuff.
Speaking of weird stuff, Sam Rockwell’s role in this movie is ludicrous in the kind of way where it must have certainly seemed funny when writing it, but also a nice enough way to create a threat; but in the film, it just seems too strange and handled like a joke that just won’t go away. The same can be said for the various people that associate themselves with Rockwell’s character, along with a number of other cast members who play various characters interacting with Hill’s character over the course of the night. There are just badly handled comedic moments that, for whatever reason, did not come out in the funniest manner.
I can kind of see how some people would find this movie humorous and I really wish I felt the same way (I did request the chance to review the flick after all), but nothing really clicked that well for me here. I like the people involved, but The Sitter just missed the mark every step of the way. It is fortunate that a lot of talented people were involved, simply because I know they can do better elsewhere, but as far as this film is concerned, it may be one that some would want to leave off their resumes.
There is nothing inherently bad about this 1080p transfer onto Blu-ray. It is worth noting that the film takes place mostly at night, which means a lot of the film contains darkness and black skies. Given that that’s a pretty good way to tell the clarity of the transfer, I can’t say I found much in the way of problems with the black levels of the film – a good sign. That said, the rest of the film is quite warm in its presentation of various sets and characters. The colors come through well enough and everything else looks clean enough to say that this is a solid transfer.
So despite not really enjoying the film, I should point out that The Sitter has a pretty fantastic old school hip-hop soundtrack (for whatever reason), which I quite enjoyed. Good thing the lossless DTS Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack does a great job at representing this, as well as the rest of the film. While I did enjoy the soundtrack, the film is very focused on dialogue and it all comes through quite clear. Various instances of heavy sound effects (minivan chase scenes and moments of gun play) also register well enough with an audio track that is generally well balanced.
The Sitter arrives with two versions of the film (Theatrical and Unrated). The Unrated version is about 6 minutes longer. The special features on the Blu-ray do little to really get into the making of this film, beyond the standard making-of that is more focused on the cast stating how much fun they are having. Basically the lack of a commentary or any input from the writers hurts, but the features are kind of entertaining (and all in HD), if all you wanted was to see some additional laughs from the cast and crew, based on the fun they had making the film (sadly not reflected well enough for me in the final product).
Deleted and Extended Scenes, plus an Alternate Ending – About 25 minutes of material here, fitting for the film in general, basically showing more of the cast basically hanging out and trying to be funny together.
Gag Reel – Pretty standard.
Sits-N-Giggles – A series of one-liners from the various members of the cast.
For Your Consideration – The youngest member of the cast showcases her talents.
The Making of The Sitter – A bunch of interviews with the cast and director David Gordon Green, mixed with some on-set footage. Not very enlightening.
Jonah the Producer – A joke featurette, revolving around Jonah Hill acting responsible.
The Sitter is a film fitting of a pretty easy rhyme (It belongs in the…). The film wastes the talents of a lot of people who know how to entertain and has few redeeming aspects overall. It’s a jumbled mess of a film that mainly fails due to the fact that it simply isn’t very funny. The Blu-ray is at least well equipped with a fine audio/video presentation and a handful of extras that could be amusing to some; it is just too bad the film isn’t very good at all.
Check Out A Copy Here: