‘The Sitter’: The Reviews Are In!

~By Quickjams on December 9, 2011

Critics call Jonah Hill comedy an R-rated ‘Adventures in Babysitting.’
By Kara Warner


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Jonah Hill, Max Records and Landry Bender in “The Sitter”


Photo: 20th Century Fox

From the moment Fox unleashed the clever “Need a Sitter?” poster advertising Jonah Hill as a for-hire babysitter, we were intrigued to see what comedic genius might be born of the qualified actor/director combination of the “Superbad” star and “Pineapple Express” helmer David Gordon Green.

Once the trailers hit, it was obvious audiences would be in for a raunchy, envelope-pushing experience, the effectiveness of which has the critical masses a bit divided and sitting at a 21 percent rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. Read on as we sift through “The Sitter” reviews:

Plot Twists, Turns and Caveats
” ‘The Sitter’ is wickedly absurd. Every parent’s fears about the caretaker brought in at the last minute get amped up here. So getting one’s shorts in a knot about the situations that sitter Noah Griffith (Hill) puts youngsters Slater, Blithe and Rodrigo in is a waste of ire. The comedy breaks in viewers from the get-go by offering a twist on R-rated bedroom activity. Later, after Noah is sweetly guilt-tripped into a babysitting gig by his mom (Jessica Hecht), the movie proceeds to an ill-advised drug run. It’s a comedy with kids, not for kids. … Which leads us to a second caveat: This comedy is shameless about race. From its rap and R&B soundtrack, to the casting of Wu-Tang Clan’s Cliff “Method Man” Smith, to the in-your-face sistah Tina (played with nice vigor by Samira Wiley), it’s clear this comedy is made by that generation of filmmakers freed by the omnipresence of hip-hop to be a little gangsta themselves.” — Lisa Kennedy, The Denver Post

The Performances
“Some of the sting is eased by Hill, who navigates this movie’s wild ride through a raunchier ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ with a genuinely sweet sense of self-deprecation. Yes, he’s a sadsack loser, but he knows it, and his honest acceptance of that makes him easy to take. He’s also helped out by the great Sam Rockwell — who remains one of the consistently wildest and most daring actors out there — as Karl, a starved-for-affection drug dealer. And also aided by a surprising gay-pride subplot that delivers its own ‘It Gets Better’ message.” — Stephen Witty, The Newark Star-Ledger

Mixed Messages
“The filmmakers try desperately to skate that thin line between socially redeeming and wanton excess by having Noah dish out some bits of wisdom and occasionally indicate he might care about the kids. But it is very thin ice and Hill never finds his balance, to say nothing of his comic timing. Though table-turning ‘The Ransom of Red Chief’ themes abound, somehow the exploding toilet and all the other ‘funny’ mayhem, on which much of the film’s humor rides, seem sad instead.” — Betsy Sharkey, The Los Angeles Times

The Final Word, Pro-Con-Pro Style
” ‘I’m not Mary Poppins,’ protests Jonah Hill’s Noah. No, you’re Elisabeth Shue, and ‘The Sitter’ is an unacknowledged remake of ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ with the raunch dial turned up to max. It’s smart, funny, agreeably perverse and simultaneously abrupt and exhausting.” — Kyle Smith, New York Post

” ‘The Sitter’ plays like an R-rated homage to the 1980s comedy ‘Adventures in Babysitting,’ with some ‘Date Night’ and lots of filthy humor thrown in. Spiked with some loopily inspired supporting performances (Sam Rockwell turns up as a freaky, tweaky drug dealer running the world’s most hilariously depraved coke den) and Hill’s characteristically inspired improvisational asides, ‘The Sitter’ is an efficient but uneven programmer, whose most valuable contribution to the cinematic landscape is its blessedly brief 80-minute running time.” — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

“Hill is a strong comic, and this movie, considerably funnier than director Green’s last, the execrable ‘Your Highness’ — low standard — allows the actor to show off his beautiful timing (also evident in ‘Moneyball,’ but without the hijinks). Screenwriters Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka have barely a screen credit between them, but they understand the Hill persona, a little whisper here, an off-the-cuff insult that lands as softly as a kiss and a nonplussed double take followed by a quick rejoinder. Noah is the fat guy who wears a plaid flannel shirt underneath a jacket opened to reveal a clashing plaid lining. He’s also good and decent and open to admitting all of his faults. ‘I had a monthlong, intense addiction to Robitussin,’ he tells Slater, trying to put him at ease. ‘The Sitter’ is predicated on a belief that chunky Jonah Hill, or at least the persona he presents, is secretly supercool. While it turns out to be a wisp of a movie, on that front at least, it is persuasive.” — Mary Pols, Time

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Sitter.”

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