Jonah Hill as Noah Griffith
Max Records as Slater
Ari Graynor as Marisa Lewis
J.B. Smoove as Julio
Sam Rockwell as Karl
Landry Bender as Blithe
Kevin Hernandez as Rodrigo
Kylie Bunbury as Roxanne
Erin Daniels as Mrs. Pedulla
D.W. Moffett as Dr. Pedulla
Jessica Hecht as Sandy Griffith
Bruce Altman as Jim Griffith
Method Man as Jacolby
Sean Patrick Doyle as Garv
Alex Wolff as Clayton
Jack Krizmanich as Ricky Fontaine
Grace Aronds as Twin #1
Jane Aronds as Twin #2
Lou Carbonneau as Maitre’ D
Alysia Joy Powell as Kid City Employee
Ernie Anastos as News Anchor
Dari Alexander Williams as News Broadcaster #2
Samira Wiley as Tina
Sammuel Soifer as Benji Gillespie
Reggie Alvin Green as Soul Baby
Nicky Katt as Officer Petite
Eddie Rouse as Lounge Singer
Gracie Lawrence as Wendy Sapperstein
Jackie Hoffman as Mrs. Sapperstein
Directed by David Gordon Green
Noah Griffith (Jonah Hill) has agreed to babysit three kids so his single mother can go out on a date, but the kids are a nightmare from the mopey Slater (Max Record) to his celebrity-crazed little sister Blithe (Landry Bender) and their destructive adopted brother Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez). Noah’s desire to hook up with his pseudo-girlfriend (Ari Graynor) sends him on a field trip to get her drugs, but the kids get him into further trouble with an eccentric drugdealer named Karl (Sam Rockwell).
Having Jonah Hill babysit a bunch of kids may be as obvious a high concept as when Adam Sandler or Vin Diesel or Eddie Murphy or Ice Cube or any number of other comic actors were put in charge of kids. In this case, it’s not dumbed down to appeal to family audiences instead geared towards the 15 to 20 year old males who appreciate Hill’s R-rated humor. Connecting Hill with another veteran from the Apatow camp, director David Gordon Green, is partially what makes “The Sitter” worthwile, because it combines the elements that have made their earlier films so much fun with something a bit more mainstream than what either have delivered. The results work in some cases better than others.
Hill’s Noah is another nice guy, maybe a little clueless to the fact his hot girlfriend Marisa (Ari Graynor) is using him to get what she wants with absolutely no intention of “paying him back” for the sexual favors he performs on her as the film opens. He’s also nice enough to agree to watch the kids of his mother’s friend so they can go out and maybe she’ll meet a nice guy, though he has absolutely no babysitting experience nor is he prepared for the screwed-up kids he’s going to watch. When Marisa convinces Noah to get her some cocaine and he ends up bringing the kids along, it turns as disastrous as you might expect, and Noah finds himself having to scrape together $10,000 in order to keep a crazed drugdealer from killing him.
As much as this is a vehicle for Hill, a comedy like this tends to only be as funny or entertaining as the kids and this trio is somewhat of a mixed bag. Max Powers, the little kid from “Where the Wild Things Are,” is too mopey, and his story arc is revolved in a rather awkward and not quite politically correct way that might make some uncomfortable. Little Landry Bender pretty much steals the show with her ridiculous make-up and behavior inspired by celebutantes like Paris Hilton, which just goes to show you how easily little girls are influenced by all the crap they see and read. Their adoptive brother Rodrigo from South America is the one most like something we might see in PG movies, blowing up toilets and breaking things and getting Noah into more trouble.
The results are a strange and surreal mix of mainstream sensibilities and Green and Hill’s normal sense of humor. Sam Rockwell’s Karl is a great example of the latter as he seems to be taken right out of “Boogie Nights,” hopped up on drugs and more concerned with being Facebook friends with everyone he meets than taking his business seriously. After Hill, he’s the best thing going for the film, and there’s lots of fun side characters like JB Smoove as Rockwell’s right-hand man and Hill has great interactions with Method Man and Reggie Alvin Green, a memorable character known as Soul Baby, which may give the film a bit more urban appeal than other mainstream comedies.
It’s still a weird mix, but you do have to respect Green and Hill’s attempts to add heart to the humor which keeps the comedy from completely deteriorating under the usual low-brow laughs and physical humor that sometimes brings it down. Another bonus Green brings to the table is one of the hipper soundtracks you’re likely to hear, almost like a history of old school funk and hip hop, which goes a long way to make “The Sitter” better than it should have been.
The Bottom Line:
It’s hard to find much originality in “The Sitter” due to its overused high concept premise, but Jonah Hill’s voice and David Gordon Green’s vision do shine through to make it a comedy that doesn’t veer too far from what either does best.