Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Sitter (2011) – Review

Review: The Sitter is funny at times, but mostly just another bland comedy that tries to rely too heavily on R-rated jokes (seemingly for shock value) instead of developing its characters and story. The film is about a loser, Noah, who has nothing going for him who takes a babysitting job so his mother can have fun with her friends and maybe meet someone to love her. However, babysitting is not as easy as he thought as the three kids are each wacky – but really Noah gets himself into trouble pursuing a girl (that is clearly using him) and brings the kids along for the ride. Director David Gordon Green has had success with comedy in that past, but here he lets it get beyond itself a little. Sure, some of the jokes work and are funny, but for the most part the film feels off and sort of random – taking place in somewhat of a parallel reality (when it has been set up to be the real world). Really the film is sort of a R-rated remake of Adventures in Babysitting (to a degree) but does not work anywhere near as well as that movie because the audience does not care about the characters (as they are not very well developed and are mostly unlikable) and the story just veers off into some sort of random fantasy land at times (making the story meaningless as well). One saving grace however is that Green knows how to direct, and thus the film is still entertaining. The action scenes are well done (for the most part) and Green keeps the film moving forward. Plus, the character of Noah carries the film (though, purely thanks to Jonah Hill’s performance). The biggest issue is that this sort of comedy has been done to death recently with many good films (like Green’s own Pineapple Express), thus raising the bar. The Sitter is in the vein of Judd Apatow’s productions – funny and rude but with a heart (being the most important aspect) – but this lacks both a heart (though it certainly makes veiled attempts that fall empty due to poorly developed characters) and a strong enough story.

Technical, aesthetic & acting achievements: David Gordon Green has now made seven feature films. He started out making good indie dramas like George Washington and All the Real Girls, and later moved onto comedy with Pineapple Express (and directing a lot of Eastbound & Down). But with two comedies in 2011, Green has arguably made his two worst movies (though, I did enjoy Your Highness). Hopefully, Green will get back to making the quality of films he is capable of doing. The original music by Jeff McIlwain and David Wingo is decent, but greatly overshadowed by the fantastic soundtrack (which is probably the best thing about the film). Tim Orr’s cinematography is good (as usual), but probably the most aesthetically interesting aspect of the film is Richard A. Wright’s production design, which really plays into the oddness of many of the surroundings that the characters encounter (particularly the bad guy’s lair). The cast is fine in the film, but none really had much to work with given that the characters are greatly under developed. None more so than Roxanne (Noah’s other love interest). Newcomer Kylie Bunbury plays her well enough, but her character seems totally fake. The three kids are all ridiculous in terms of character, making the actors’ performances uneven but Landry Bender and Max Records are not that bad. Ari Graynor sort of has a throwaway role, but is decent in it. Sam Rockwell, who is typically brilliant, has a horribly written character and does his best. Jonah Hill is actually good in it, given the sheer randomness of the story. He is a big reason the film ends up being entertaining at all, as he just sort of rolls with everything thrown at him.

Summary & score: Given all involved, The Sitter is really just a disappointing outing that is occasionally funny, but mostly just bad. 5/10

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