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With: Jonah Hill, Max Records, Ari Graynor, J.B. Smoove, Sam Rockwell, Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez, Kylie Bunbury, Erin Daniels, D.W. Moffett, Jessica Hecht, Bruce Altman, Method Man, Sean Patrick Doyle, Alex Wolff
Written by: Brian Gatewood, Alessandro Tanaka
Directed by: David Gordon Green
MPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and some violence
Running Time: 81
Date: 12/09/2011

The Sitter (2011)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Kid Stuff

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Not long ago, David Gordon Green emerged with what could fairly be called one of the greatest American directorial debuts of all time: GeorgeWashington (2000). All kinds of things are liable to happen to such a career. It could disappear into obscurity, never receiving the kind of attention it deserves. It could hit a slump, where the films just don't come together. But neither of those things appears to be happening to Green. With his seventh feature film The Sitter, he appears to have simply given up.

Green started out with quiet introspective dramas, but in 2008, he released a surprise double-whammy: first the drama Snow Angels, and then the explosive comedy PineappleExpress. That movie was brilliant: a great combination of laid-back and anxious. Green released his sixth film, Your Highness, another comedy, earlier this year. I did not see it, but reports indicated that I did not need to: it was a dud. The Sitter is too. 

Jonah Hill stars as Noah, a layabout who was fired from the only job he ever had, and whose current sexual relationship consists of him bestowing cunnilingus upon his girlfriend but receiving nothing in return. On a night when his pretty, sweet mom (Jessica Hecht) has a promising date, the only way she can go is if Noah agrees to babysit three neurotic, troublesome kids. There's the tightly-wound Slater (Max Records), the celebrity-obsessed Blithe (Landry Bender), and the adopted Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), who is obsessed with fire and bombs.

After the grown-ups leave, Noah's girlfriend (Ari Graynor) calls with the promise of actual sex, and thus begins one of those out-all-night comedies like Martin Scorsese's After Hours, last year's Date Night, or the current A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas. Usually this genre can get away with all kinds of imaginative and implausible ideas since, when it gets late, as Scorsese's movie quotes: "different rules apply." But The Sitter doesn't invent anything, doesn't imagine anything. It simply finds a bunch of old movie tropes and squeezes them into a new movie.

The funniest bit -- and this is relative -- shows Noah in an African-American bar, trying to talk "hip" and impress the clientele there. Implausibly, a pretty former classmate of Noah's, Roxanne (Kylie Bunbury), becomes his future love interest in this scene. Otherwise, we get jokes about Rodrigo "dropping bombs" in the bathroom, Blithe "sharting" in the car, and clumsy, lumbering chase scenes. Much is made of an astrological phenomenon that Noah is looking forward to seeing, but it never actually happens.

For me, the biggest sin a movie can commit is laziness. Secondary sins are comedies that are not funny, and talented directors that make impersonal movies. The Sitter is all three of these.

Fox Video released a new "unrated' cut (87 minutes) to go with the 81-minute theatrical cut. There are about 25 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, plus several other funny, jokey extras. The transfer is fine, but given that the movie has such a flat, bland look, it's nothing exceptional.

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