One and a half starts (out of 4)
It’s just human nature. If you tell someone — especially teenagers — that they should take a pass on a movie like The Sitter, they’re only going to want to see it even more.
But there are actually many good reasons not to recommend The Sitter, including the fact that it features a script that strains credulity well beyond the breaking point in one situation after another, that the characters are mostly not believable or particularly sympathetic and that the moral ethos of its protagonist borders on sociopathic.
Still, it’s inevitable that young people are going to pile into the theatres to see it. What can you do?
The movie opens with the sounds of a young woman’s orgasmic moaning as Noah (played by Jonah Hill) performs a sexual service on her recumbent form. When he asks for reciprocation, she’s got all kinds of excuses as she hustles him out the door.
At home, Noah’s lonely mom will have to cancel a hot date unless someone can fill in. Noah reluctantly agrees and is soon off to the Pedulla residence to play babysitter for three youngsters whose varied neuroses could fill a weighty tome on childhood behavourial issues.
Slater (played by Max Records) is a pill-popping crybaby. Blithe (played by Landry Bender) is going through her “celebutante” phase, wearing way too much makeup and finding everything “hot” as in sexy (she’s 8!).
Then there’s Rodrigo (played by Kevin Hernandez), the adopted kid from El Salvador with some serious anger management issues who enjoys smashing things and setting off oversized cherry bombs.
When Noah’s loser of a girlfriend calls to ask him to get cocaine in exchange for participatory sexual activity, he blithely steals the family minivan and takes the kids along to Manhattan to score (with the hope of scoring later, as it were.)
During the ensuing misadventures, Noah gets involved with a crazy drug dealer named Karl (played by Sam Rockwell), forcing him to steal cash at a teenage girl’s bat mitzvah, break into his estranged father’s jewellery store and take the kids into some bad parts of town.
Not exactly role model material.
Director David Gordon Green, who gave us the stoner comedy, Pineapple Express, maintains a brisk pace, hoping perhaps to paper over the outlandish series of unlikely coincidences that occur throughout. At a meagre 81 minutes, the film is at least mercifully brief.
The film’s sole redeeming feature is Hill, who remains a watchable comic buffoon (even as his slacker character embarks on a crime spree in hopes of getting laid).
Moral bankruptcy, implausibility piled upon implausibility, unlikeable characters. All solid arguments for recommending that audiences sit this one out.
Bruce DeMara is a syndicated Toronto Star movie critic.