Monday, May 07, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Sitter (2011) *

R, 81 min.
Director: David Gordon Green
Writers: Brian Gatewood, Alessandro Tanaka
Starring: Jonah Hill, Max Records, Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez, Ari Graynor, Sam Rockwell, J.B. Smoove, Kylie Bunbury, Erin Daniels, Jessica Hecht, Bruce Altman, Chris ‘Method Man’ Smith

Much like Kevin Smith did with “Cop Out”, David Gordon Green has caused me to do a double take with his latest movie, “The Sitter”. It’s not a good double take. It’s a “what the hell was that?” double take. This is not a good movie.

David Gordon Green made one of the most original, beautiful and poetic movies I’ve ever seen with his directorial debut, “George Washington”. Since then he’s made almost film after film of cinematic poems with films like “All the Real Girls”, “Undertow”, and “Snow Angels”. He also made the wildly funny stoner action flick “Pineapple Express”. That last one was a surprise, but it was a good one. In 2011, he made two movies that boggle the mind considering the pool of masterpieces that preceded them. The first was the disappointing stoner fantasy flick “Your Highness”. That was an experiment of genre clashing, however. I can see what drew him to the material. It was a gamble that he lost. His involvement in “The Sitter”, however, is inexplicable.

In essence, “The Sitter” is a remake of the 80’s flick “Adventures in Babysitting” with curse words, cunnilingus, and Jonah Hill instead of the more physically appealing Elizabeth Shue. Hill plays a deadbeat who agrees to babysit some kids for a family friend so his mom can go out on a date. Needless to say, things happen, situations arise, whatever you want to call it, and Hill must place the kids in some very adult situations and it’s all so silly and stupid.

I suppose some of this stuff could work if the writers didn’t think that placing kids in inappropriate situations was funny in and of itself. Too much of the story is about Hill’s character, not enough about the kids. What’s necessary to make the comedy work is for Hill to be reacting to what the kids are about, when instead everything is designed to show us what Hill is about. It’s all such tired material, the execution by Green and all the filmmakers involved seems very aware of this problem. It’s too bad no one seems to care enough to do anything about it.

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