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Noah is a suspended college student, living at home with his single mom, who is talked into babysitting the three, young, misfit kids next door. When he's invited that night to have sex by a girl, he decides to take the kids along on the attempted sexual rendezvous, and the night takes a wild and dangerous turn for the worse for which he is totally unprepared.
For more about The Sitter and the The Sitter Blu-ray release, see the The Sitter Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on March 21, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Jonah Hill, Max Records, Ari Graynor, Sam Rockwell, J.B. Smoove, Kylie Bunbury
Director: David Gordon Green
» See full cast & crew
The Sitter Blu-ray Review
Don't feel bad sitting this one out.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, March 21, 2012
I'll get to Jonah Hill in a second, but first, can we comment on the increasingly weird and off-track career of The Sitter's director, David Gordon Green? In the early 2000s, Green was being hailed as one of the next major American filmmakers, alongside simultaneous up-and-comer P.T. Anderson. His first three films, 2000's George Washington, 2003's All the Real Girls, and 2004's Undertow established him as an indie Southern Gothic storyteller who operated with authenticity and real emotional nuance. Undertow was even produced by Green's biggest cinematic influence at the time, the elusive Terrence Malick (Tree of Life). He made one more small-town slice-of-life drama, 2007's Snow Angels--starring Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell--and then drastically switched up his style, directing the stoner-comedy Pineapple Express and episodes of HBO's Eastbound & Down. This year, he went further down the mainstream commercial comedy rabbit hole with the truly awful Your Highness and now The Sitter, which is less-execrable but still highly disappointing. I only have one question: What's Green been smoking?
As for Jonah Hill, I'm a little bit more lenient on comics. They occasionally do bad films. It happens to the best of them. (I'm looking at you, Steve Martin.) Hill still had one hell of a year in 2011--landing Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his performance in Moneyball--even if you factor in his role in the squarely mediocre The Sitter, a half-baked and more foul-mouthed riff on Adventures in Babysitting. You get a good idea what's in store when the film opens with Hill, as twenty-something layabout Noah Griffith, going down on his quasi-girlfriend, Marisa (Ari Graynor), who's not too keen on returning the favor. After getting a DUI, Noah has recently dropped out of college--or been suspended, we're not entirely sure--and he's since moved back home with his single mom (Jessica Hecht).
On the night in question, Noah's mother suckers him into taking a babysitting gig for her friend, the busty Mrs. Pedulla (Erin Daniels), and Noah is left in charge of three tweenaged brats--the neurotic, pill-popping Slater (Max Records), his celebutante-obsessed, makeup-wearing kid sister Blithe (Landry Bender), and their adopted El Salvadorian brother, Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), who likes to break vases for no reason, carries around a ready supply of cherry bombs, and always has to pee. It'd be a long evening if all Noah had to do was keep the kids from burning down the house, but he's got an additional complication. Marisa calls him from a party, horny and willing to let him have some P-in-V action if he comes over. Oh, and he'll also need to swing by her dealer's place to pick up some coke. Sex is a powerful motivator, of course, so Noah loads up the kids in the family minivan and sets off for the city.
What follows is an episodic, hit-or-miss-but-mostly-miss adventure that escalates in insanity while offering diminishing laugh returns. For but one example, it's moderately funny when the van stinks up and Blithe shyly admits, "It was me. I sharted." But then the gag is drawn out to unnecessary and unfunny extremes, with Noah trying buy a clean pair of underwear for the kid only to be accosted by the attendants of the children's clothing store, who take him for some kind of molester. And then there's the drug dealer, Karl "with a K"--played by Sam Rockwell, the go to guy for maniacal lately--who seems to have been teleported into this movie from a low-budget 1980s exploitation film. Karl owns an enormous cocaine factory in a warehouse, where he also does medical experiments on body-builders (?) and has a swishy, anorexic- looking errand boy who figure-eights around the place on roller skates. It sounds demented, and it is, but it's all so far beyond belief that it hurts the integrity of the otherwise at least marginally realistic movie. If the whole story was this off-the-wall, maybe it would've worked better.
When the always-up-to-no-good Rodrigo steals one of Karl's coke-filled dinosaur eggs--yes, the dealer packages his product in miniature dino-egg replicas--the film throws in yet another conflict. If Noah doesn't show up at the party with ten-large by midnight, he's toast. Not surprisingly, the evening spins out of control. There's a toilet explosion and a jewelry heist, a crashed bat mitzvah and a fight with a pretty-boy kickboxer. Et cetera, et cetera. Along the way, Noah strikes up an unlikely romance with a former classmate and somehow solves all of the kids' emotional problems and hang-ups, teaching Blithe not to idolize vapid reality TV stars, helping Slater realize it's okay to be himself, and showing Rodrigo that he's going to have to chill the f--k out if he doesn't want to keep moving from one foster home to the next. And yes, most of the humor in the film comes from the juxtaposition of having Jonah Hill swear at children. The Sitter's funny only in spurts. There are a handful of good one-liners and a couple of weirdly inspired comedic moments--like Noah jive-talking with the bouncer at an all-African-American bar--but in general the jokes fizzle more than they burn.
Hill coasts through this one as his lovable goofball self. I wouldn't say his performance is phoned in, but it doesn't look like he's pushing himself either. And the kids....well, they're movie kids. They get the job done. The only who who's flat-out going for it is Sam Rockwell, unrelentingly amped up and almost weird beyond words, crying into the arms of a built, bikini-wearing transexual and flying off the handle with Scarface-aping rage. Like I said before, it feels like he's wandered in from the set of a different movie, a movie I'd rather be watching. The Sitter just doesn't do it for me.
Note: This disc includes both the theatrical version (1:21:14) and the unrated extended cut (1:27:04).
The Sitter Blu-ray, Video Quality
Due to the cameras, film stocks, lenses, and lighting used, studio comedies tend not to look as polished as their drama or action counterparts, where the visuals tend to play a more important part in the storytelling. This goes for The Sitter too, which has a chunky grain structure and a slightly soft look overall. That said, the film's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer gives it a solid Blu-ray presentation, one that's entirely faithful to the source material. Like just about all 20th Century Fox new releases, there are no signs of digital noise reduction or edge enhancement or excessive compression problems here, just a clean picture with a heavy but natural-looking grain structure. The image is rarely razor sharp, and there are a few stand-out shots that look noticeably blurry, but there's definitely fine high definition detail to be noticed in close-ups. You'd certainly never mistake this for a standard def picture. Color fares well generally, dense and vivid during brighter indoor or daylight scenes, though a bit murky at night. Black levels and contrast look fine. Eye candy this isn't, but I'm pretty confident The Sitter looks like it should.
The Sitter Blu-ray, Audio Quality
20th Century Fox plays no tricks on The Sitter, giving the film a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that- -for a comedy--gets pretty damn energetic at times. We're not talking action-movie levels of ear-massaging, multi-channel- engaging audio, but this mix makes the most of its 5.1 presentation and even kicks out some serious bass when necessary. You can expect clear, forceful sound from the front speakers, while the rears offer occasional ambience--street sounds, bar chatter, etc.--and a few great directional effects, like when Karl's van overturns during the car chase. When the jewelry storefront blows up, thanks to Rodrigo's M-80, the exploding glass also cascades nicely through the soundfield. The mostly hip- hop soundtrack bumps as it should, with pulsing LFE-channel accompaniment and clean highs. Dialogue is always well-balanced and easily understood. The disc also includes an English descriptive audio track, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs, and optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles
The Sitter Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Sitter Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It's the age-old gotcha--if you've seen the trailer for The Sitter, you've seen almost all of the film's laugh-out-loud- worthy moments. As a whole, the movie just doesn't work well; most of the jokes don't land right, and the ones that do are few and far between. I can excuse Jonah Hill--he gets a pass for the damn fine job he did in Moneyball--but I'm shaking my head slowly at director David Gordon Green, who's been squandering the promise of his early career. Seriously, go back and watch George Washington and then watch The Sitter. It's hard to believe they were both made by the same guy. Anyway, The Sitter looks and sounds great on Blu-ray, and comes with a decent selection of bonus features, but I can't recommend this one as anything more than a rental.
The Sitter: Other Editions
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The Sitter Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Sitter Blu-ray - January 25, 2012
In March, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will bring The Sitter to Blu-ray. Directed by David Gordon Green (Your Highness), this raunchy comedy stars Jonah Hill (Moneyball) as a college-age slacker whose babysitting job takes a dark turn when he and his ...
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