With every new David Gordon Green film, there’s generally a round of bewildered bemoaning about the transformation of the Malick-like auteur behind films like George Washington into a purveyor of broad, boneheaded comedy. Frankly, I think it’s time to give up the ghost on the career path we anticipated a decade ago — Green seems satisfied making mainstream comedies and who are we to hold it against him?
But even with the diminished expectations that generally accompany the work of latter-day Green, The Sitter is pretty fucking terrible. A shapeless mass of tossed-off crudeness and unearned sentiment, the film gets a little mileage out of Jonah Hill’s game comic persona, but with no one to rein in the film’s abundant improvising and a finished product that looks like it contains a lot of first takes, it’s a dire 80 minutes indeed.
Hill stars as Noah Griffith, an erstwhile college student who takes on a babysitting gig to help out his mom. The three kids — some of the least plausible screen siblings ever — are Slater (Max Records), a walking pill-popping anxiety attack who just needs Hill to help him come out of the closet, the makeup-smeared Kardashian-in-the-making Blithe (Landry Bender) and cherry-bomb-wielding El Salvadorian adoptee Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez).
When Hill gets a call from sort-of girlfriend Marisa (Ari Graynor), promising sex if he brings her some coke at a party, he packs up the kids in the minivan, jaunts into the city and encounters all sorts of misadventures, often at the hands of deranged drug dealer Karl (Sam Rockwell), whose surreal lair filled with pansexual bodybuilders and drug-filled dinosaur eggs is about the only point of interest.
Green hardly bothers with “scenes” or “structure” — he cuts between moments with little regard for how they’ll fit together and papers over the gaps with an absurd amount of slick driving-in-the-city montages, seemingly yanked out of a Mitsubishi commercial.
There’s also the matter of the film’s distasteful racial implications — the Hispanic Rodrigo is basically a sneering gangster in pajamas, outfitted with a pet-like tracking device by his parents, and Hill’s eventual escape from Rockwell comes courtesy of band of helpful, jive-talking black people.
One’s tolerance for The Sitter will likely come down to where one falls on the Jonah Hill spectrum. For me, the guy’s got enough rakish charm to make even dreck like this pass painlessly enough, but even for a Hill diehard, there’s not much here worth checking out.
The Blu-ray Disc
Presented in 1080p high definition in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, The Sitter looks how you’d expect a modern mainstream comedy to look on Blu-ray — bright, stable colors; a fairly glossy surface; decent amounts of detail; and no pesky damage. The film has kind of a flat look to it, but the presentation here is strong. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is also fine, displaying a solid use of the surrounds, perfect vocal clarity, and crisp music.
The film is presented in both the 81-minute theatrical cut and the unrated edition, which runs several minutes longer but doesn’t contain anything notably raunchy.
A selection of 10 deleted and extended scenes includes an alternate ending, a gag reel is as humor-deficient as the film and various outtakes showcase some leaden improvising and some beat-boxing from Bender. There’s also a pretty standard making-of, a look at Hill’s producer chops and the film’s theatrical trailer. Everything is presented in high definition.
The package also includes a DVD with the theatrical version and a digital copy of the unrated version.
The Bottom Line
Nope. David Gordon Green can do whatever he wants with his career, but if he continues down the mainstream comedy path, let’s hope he puts in a little more effort in subsequent films.