DIR: David Gordon Green • WRI: Brian Gatewood, Alessandro Tanaka • PRO: Michael De Luca • DOP: Tim Orr • ED: Craig Alpert • DES: Richard A. Wright • Cast: Jonah Hill, Ari Graynor, Sam Rockwell

Since stumbling awkwardly onto our screens in Superbad, Jonah Hill has become a comedy favourite, forcing audiences into fits of hysterics with his on-screen antics. More recently, audiences have seen a change in the actor as he has physically shrunk before our eyes, causing some to think that his recent Call of Duty advert was photoshopped. It seems that the sky’s the limit for the young actor, but this year’s early comedy flop, The Sitter, seems to be a giant step backwards in the comedian’s career.

It’s almost unnecessary for me to provide a synopsis here as the movie’s title probably gives away all you need to know. An unlikely and irresponsible babysitter in the form of Hill as Noah, is tasked with caring for three of the world’s most aggressive kids and manages to bring them on an unforgettable adventure through the streets of New York. It is a common premise leading to unfortunate consequences; for every laugh-out-loud moment, there are ten moments of boredom and realising you’ve been here before.

Hill himself is ultimately charming as he mixes self-loathing with self-awareness to just the right degree. Sam Rockwell plays the insane pursuer well, and clearly enjoys the outlandish role. Our three demon children play their somewhat cliché parts well and without over-acting. Landry Bender is somehow adorable as the potty-mouthed Blithe, and Kevin Hernandez is well cast as explosives enthusiast Rodrigo, despite his character being slightly unnecessary. Unfortunately for Max Records, his character Slater is somewhat pushed into the background by his ‘siblings’. Usually we can put blame at the door of actors for the over-the-top nature of a film, but here I’m afraid, the blame rests behind the scenes.

The ultimate problem with this movie is that it’s been done to death, from the premise to the scenarios and the inevitable heart-warming realisations; there is not the slightest hint of originality here. Whilst Jonah Hill is hilarious in these unlikely scenarios, audiences are tiring of the formula, and already know not to hire an unlikely babysitter, whether it be Jackie Chan or Jonah Hill. Here is a disappointing filler movie from a comedic actor who has the talent and the timing to be fantastic. But perhaps this is Jonah’s last hurrah to his old overweight comedic stylings. We can only hope.

Each and every scenario which arises in this movie is carefully orchestrated to necessitate the use of curse words by one of our angel-faced wards, and whilst a cute kid swearing or kicking off is always funny the first time around, by the half-way point we forget we’re in a cinema trying to enjoy a movie and begin to feel like we’re sitting in a quiet restaurant being assaulted by that one child on a nearby table who just won’t quit. It’s disappointing when a movie has nothing but a swearing kid and one with a penchant for explosives to keep the audience interested. The Sitter is a movie made by intelligent filmmakers which should be enjoyable, but ultimately is not. The audience will not be completely bored as there are some moments of hilarity, but overall it is an ultimately forgettable experience. This is hopefully the beginning of a new age for Hill, in which he will flex his comedy muscles and avoid cliché movies like this one.

Ciara O’Brien

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Sitter is released on 20th January 2012


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