Hollywood is a tough town, and Seth Rogen is the latest to get thrown under the bus, by a friend no less. His big moment came five years ago with Superbad (2007). But for all intents and purposes, he has been dethroned as the film-world’s favorite chubby, good-natured stoner by Jonah Hill. Excuse me, the Oscar-nominated Jonah Hill. In The Sitter, Hill revels in his role as the current, most unlikely teen-flick champ in the business.
The Sitter’s opening scene should get a prize for the crassest in history. The first image we are presented with is that of a young beauty writhing and moaning in orgasmic ecstasy. This seems to be the set-up of a joke, and we wait for the funny reveal. But as the camera pulls away we are treated to the sight of Jonah Hill’s face buried in her strategically covered crotch. Yup, that’s what he’s doing alright. The joke is that she will not return the oral favor. Well, it establishes that his “girlfriend” is selfish, and not really into him, but it isn‘t funny, or edgy.
If the idea was to present Jonah Hill as a loser in love ala Jon Favreau in Swingers (1996), they missed the boat completely. Truth be told, the whole bit is not shocking at all. It’s boring.
Things improve a tad after this debacle. Our hero is Hill, and his mother is supposed to baby-sit a friend’s kids while they go to a party. There is a conflict though, as she has been asked out on her first date since Dad dumped her for a younger chick. Good guy that he is, Jonah decides to help her by watching the three rugrats. The ‘tweens are much more than he bargained for however, and he has a rough time keeping them in check.
When the drunk girlfriend calls him from a party offering “real” sex (as long as he gets some cocaine), Jonah cannot resist. So he loads everyone into the family’s mini-van, and goes off in search of drugs and a quickie.
What follows is a predictable series of mishaps involving the kids, mistaken identity, a face-off, and a $10,000 drug deal gone wrong. The subplot involves the misunderstood children. The girl is all about trying to be Paris Hilton, the boy has “issues,” and the adopted son is a juvenile delinquent. All of them are in dire need of attention from their self-involved parents. Naturally, the perpetually misunderstood Jonah Hill character understands and is able to empathize with the brats in a way their parents never could.
This one splits pretty evenly for me. If you are the type of person who thinks opening a movie with cunnilingus is the coolest thing ever, then The Sitter is for you. If not, then this will be a tough 81 minutes.
For those of us who have seen this plot done better and funnier before, there is a saving grace. There are a number of classic film moments that director David Gordon Green pays homage to. One of these is the scene in Goodfellas (1990) where Tommy shoots Spider in the foot. In The Sitter, the bad guy shoots his weird, gay, roller-skate wearing “security” guy’s foot - through the skates. Another is when the drug-dealing baddie confronts Hill and perfectly mimics the immortal line George C. Scott delivers to Paul Newman at the climax of The Hustler (1961): “You owe me money!”
Three bonus features are included. There is a gag reel, an outtakes segment titled “Sits-N-Giggles,” and “Jonah the Producer” with Hill playing it straight as the most obnoxious producer in history. The DVD contains both the theatrical release, and the unrated “Totally Irresponsible” edition.
As for my take on The Sitter, it is 81 minutes of my life I wish I could get back.