Jonah Hill has real acting chops, shown to good effect when he played opposite Brad Pitt in Moneyball, but also in his role as a malevolent misfit in Cyrus. Mostly, though, the rotund Hill has carved out a niche for himself in raunchy teen comedies like Knocked Up and Superbad where his character combines the attributes of a woebegone loser with a healthy dose of passive-aggressive wit. Nearly 30, Hill seems in no hurry to grow up, at least to judge by his latest flick, which does a mediocre job of ladling dollops of “crass and crazy” onto the old trope of the babysitter who tumbles into a wild night on the town, innocent kids in tow.
The Sitter stars Hill as Noah Griffith, a drifting and self-absorbed college dropout who – very reluctantly – agrees to be a last-minute babysitter for friends of his single-parent mom so that the three of them can go to a fancy event where his mom is looking forward to a first date with a promising fella. A bemused Noah finds himself saddled with an oddball trio of kids: nervous and depressed Slater, a pill-popping 13-year-old; his eight-year-old sister, Blithe, who has a potty mouth and over-dresses like she’s heading to a beauty pageant; and Julio, a recently adopted Guatemalan boy who acts out by setting off small explosives and urinating inappropriately.
The plot kicks in when Noah gets a phone call from a selfish and manipulative sort-of girlfriend. In a wheedling voice she begs him to buy some coke and bring it over to her party; his reward will be a full-on “vaginal sex” hook up. Against strict orders, the sex-starved Noah piles the kids into their parents’ minivan . . . and drives off into a world of trouble, including a crazy drug dealer (a slumming Sam Rockwell) who soon wants to kill him, a menacing crew of black gangbangers, and various smaller misadventures sparked by his misbehaving – but actually nice, and just misunderstood – young charges. Thanks to some of the most implausible plotting of the year, this lazy turkey comes to a predictably sentimental ending, with happier kids and a more responsible Noah.
Is there even any use in pointing out that a few not-so-minor details – such as trashed vehicles, the $4,000 dollars Noah stole from a Jewish girl’s fancy Bat Mitzvah party, as well as the handful of diamonds he filched from his estranged father’s jewelry store, (two thefts designed to mollify the aforementioned drug dealer) – are left completely unresolved? Mostly though, due to uninspired jokes that rarely provoke laughs and certainly don’t build to anything, this vulgar and ill-behaved Sitter should be sent to bed without any supper. M
The Sitter ★ ★
Directed by David Gordon Green
Starring: Jonah Hill
R – 100 minutes
Continues at the Odeon and SilverCity
Sandhill is one of the premier wineries in the Okanagan, and this veteran producer has a winner with their 2009 Cabernet-Merlot blend, sourced from their Vanessa Vineyard. At nearly 15% alcohol, you know the fruit was sun-kissed to perfect, flavour-rich ripeness. Aromas of raspberry and cherry lead to slightly darker flavours on the palate, including hints of chocolate, spice, and a lick of coffee. Nice finish, too. Not cheap at $20, but definitely worth the splurge.