'The Sitter': one crazy night done mostly right 

Jonah Hill salvages it.

click to enlarge Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez, Max Records, Jonah Hill image
  • 'THE SITTER': Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez, Max Records and Jonah Hill star.

In "The Sitter," a still heavy-set Jonah Hill plays a college student on suspension, a perpetual ball of screwups without aim or scruples. Then he volunteers to go babysitting for a night — an act of self-sacrifice, actually, to help his painfully single mother get to mingle at a party — and his life turns partially around. Along the way, there are laughs. This is the sort of template that bad movies have relied on for eons, and indeed, "The Sitter" sets its stakes low enough that it's only going to top out at "not half bad" in most estimations. Let us be generous and say, then, that it is not half bad. David Gordon Green, the Little Rock-born director, doesn't reach the heights of his 2008 stoner-canon "Pineapple Express," but he does manage something here better than the typical group-date movie for 16-year-olds, which is, truth be told, the ground "The Sitter" claims.

Strongly in the defense of "The Sitter," none of the three child actors is loathsome. The eldest, played by Max Records (of "Where the Wild Things Are" fame), is a dour neatnik partial to v-necked pullovers and the bonanza of pills he keeps in a fanny pack to control his anxiety attacks. His younger sister, played by Landry Bender, is going through a "celebutante" phase, which excuses her working-girl cosmetics schemes and her insistence on slinging Paris Hilton-grade hip-hop lingo. For someone whose life's dream is to be famous and be invited to parties, she is surprisingly tolerable. Then there's the adopted Central American firebug, played by Kevin Hernandez, who enjoys smashing things, introducing small explosives to plumbing and disappearing at inopportune times. His penchant for petty theft also leads to his snatching of a critical MacGuffin that allows the film to sic an enjoyably unhinged Sam Rockwell and cronie J.B. Smoove after Noah.

Thus our hero is set upon the sort of character-building course — saving his own hide, upholding his ever-higher standards of what a babysitter ought to do — that comedy is made of. Enjoying "The Sitter" requires that you forget anything you might think you know about New York City geography, and to accept that sometimes logic simply can't be invited to the ends of movies. But outside of its mishmashed plot, the "Sitter" completes its emotional arcs convincingly, which in a movie about One Crazy Night is often the true feat, as "Adventures in Babysitting" could tell you.

A word, then, about Hill, without whom "The Sitter" would be a dog's breakfast. He's maybe the most unlikely leading man working in films today — obese, slackfaced, moptopped — but he displays a surprising bit of range in "The Sitter," working from the same vulnerable crassness that made his vulgarity-spewing secret bromance with Michael Cera in "Superbad" the most memorable aspect of that slacker-teen classic. Like fellow Judd Apatow disciple Seth Rogen, Hill can reach into a wellspring of honesty on multiple fronts. He appears to honestly not care. Then he appears to honestly want to cause verbal harm to those around him. Then he appears to honestly ache when he's wounded.

Even while the film orbiting around him is this hostile to realism, you root for his character and you root for the actor. Maybe it's that both he and Rogen are, to be charitable, nontraditional stars, but somehow they're able to combine tenderness and crassness with uncommon success. With any luck his turn earlier this year in "Moneyball" gave a glimpse of a future when Hill's talents do more than merely prop up B babysitting comedies.


Film Details

The Sitter
Rated R · 100 min. · 2011
Official Site: www.thesittermovie.com
Director: David Gordon Green
Writer: Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka
Producer: Michael De Luca
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Jonah Hill, Ari Graynor, Miriam McDonald, Erin Daniels, Method Man, Max Records, Dreama Walker, J.B. Smoove and D.W. Moffett

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for The Sitter


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Sam Eifling

  • Fear and wonder

    'Arrival' makes room for 'linguistic relativity.'
    • Nov 16, 2016
  • Sip it, grip it, rip it

    Dardanelle golf legend John Daly's story next up in ESPN's '30 for 30' series.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • 'Seven' keeps it simple

    Antoine Fuqua's remake formulaic, but still a crowd-pleaser.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Gay diamonds

    Scenes from Rodeo in the Rock.
    • May 7, 2015
  • Not much to 'Love'

    In Judd Apatow's new Netflix original series.
    • Feb 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • World leaders set to meet in Little Rock on resource access and sustainable development

    Next week a series of meetings on the use of technology to tackle global problems will be held in Little Rock by Club de Madrid — a coalition of more than 100 former democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world — and the P80 Group, a coalition of large public pension and sovereign wealth funds founded by Prince Charles to combat climate change. The conference will discuss deploying existing technologies to increase access to food, water, energy, clean environment, and medical care.
  • Tomb to table: a Christmas feast offered by the residents of Mount Holly and other folk

    Plus, recipes from the Times staff.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.
  • Fake news

    So fed up was young Edgar Welch of Salisbury, N.C., that Hillary Clinton was getting away with running a child-sex ring that he grabbed a couple of guns last Sunday, drove 360 miles to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in Washington, D.C., where Clinton was supposed to be holding the kids as sex slaves, and fired his AR-15 into the floor to clear the joint of pizza cravers and conduct his own investigation of the pedophilia syndicate of the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state.
  • Reality TV prez

    There is almost nothing real about "reality TV." All but the dullest viewers understand that the dramatic twists and turns on shows like "The Bachelor" or "Celebrity Apprentice" are scripted in advance. More or less like professional wrestling, Donald Trump's previous claim to fame.

Latest in Movie Reviews

Visit Arkansas

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

View Trumpeter Swans in Heber Springs

Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Viewed

  • Belk bowling, b-ball

    Before Pearls breaks its brief silent treatment about Razorback basketball's latest bid to shake off listless irrelevance, we'll spend a word or two on the Belk Bowl, where the football team draws a Dec. 29 matchup with Virginia Tech in Charlotte.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Belk bowling, b-ball

    • Good analysis, something completely lacking from the daily newspaper's sports reporters/columnists.

    • on December 9, 2016
  • Re: Resurrection, reflection

    • http://hairtransplantncr.com/ hair transplant in delhi hair transplant ncr hair transplant cost hair transplant cost in…

    • on December 8, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation