Despite being a nationwide opener, 'The Sitter' was not screened for press – which isn't really a surprise considering rumors have leaked from Fox that the movie sat on a shelf for over a year. You didn't think that Jonah Hill got skinny over the slim three month period between the releases of 'The Sitter' and '21 Jump Street,' did you? Anyway, fellow critic Steve Salles and I decided to hit up a midnight screening of 'The Sitter' so we could each review it for our own outlets a few hours later. His exit comment after the film was priceless, not to mention spot-on. "I think they left an "H" out of the title." Don't worry, I'm not stealing his line. Since he couldn't print it or use it on-air for his conservative outlets, he gave me permission to use it.
In 'The Sitter,' Jonah Hill takes a crack at a leading role as Noah, a friendless weird kid with only the most selfish desires. Noah doesn't do a thing for another person without expecting something in return. This is first demonstrated in the opening sequence that explicitly shows him – to put it delicately – "fooling around" with Ari Graynor. While he initially comes across as a likeable guy, his true colors soon shine through and reveal that he's actually not worth giving a damn about - and neither is his girlfriend (the Ari Graynor character). He's lazy, mean-spirited, mouthy, and trashy; she's an equally selfish coke addict using him for his "talents." After their scene, Noah rides his bicycle home – because he lost his license after a DUI arrest – and disrespects his nice single mother. The catalyst to the movie is when Noah steps out of his skin and does one nice thing for her – babysitting a friend's kids so that the two can go on a double date. If you had to break the movie down to its bare bones, you'd uncover the moral that doing good things for other people is an awful decision. That's what it all boils down to. Being selfish is better than being kind.
When Noah arrives at the kid's house, he pervs on his mom's friend's cleavage and meets the three crazy kids that he's agreed to babysit – Slater, Blythe, and Rodrigo. Slater is a wimpy and whiny preppy kid with a fanny-pack full of anti-anxiety prescription drugs. Blythe is a celebrity obsessed pre-teen who belongs more on 'The Hills' than in the real world. Truthfully, her character is one of the few that consistently warrants laughs. Rodrigo is an adopted orphan from El Salvador with a insatiable desire to blow things up. He's the wildcard of the crew and the misfit of the family.
Shortly after the parents head to their ritzy New York City function, Noah gets a call from his girlfriend promising him that she will "return the favor" (see 'I Love You, Man') if he will stop by her drug dealer's house and score her a bump of coke. Selfish Noah kicks in again and he steals the family's minivan and take the kids into the city just to "get some." The rest of the movie is an episodic wild night out that's not all that different from the 'A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas' - there are gangsters, piles of cocaine, and a whole lot of inappropriate content set in front of and involving children.
First, Blythe poops her pants and Noah is suspected as a pedophile while shopping for panties with a little girl. Then Rodrigo runs away and blows up a bathroom in the back of a fine dining establishment. But the ball doesn't really start rolling until Noah meets up the sophisticated and sensitive psychotic gay drug dealer Karl (Sam Rockwell). Rockwell can usually make any performance awesome, but the bad writing leaves a lot of his content falling flat. The same goes for his business partner Julio played by J.B. Smoove. Rodrigo comes in out of nowhere claiming to have to use the bathroom, but instead of blowing up the toilet, he steals $10,000 worth of cocaine. After these first three episodes, the rest of the movie is filled with even more episodes of Noah and the kids trying to get their hands on the ten grand needed to stop Karl from killing them. They rob a Bat Mitzvah and a jeweler, have their van stolen, fight with a gang, have a run-in with the cops and Noah even finds true love with an out-of-his league cute former classmate. Along the way, Noah has short one-on-one talks with the kids that result in the whole crew becoming better people by the end.
You would think that the most frustrating part of 'The Sitter' is the fact that each time things begin to improve, they immediately worsen. The contrived story does indeed make it hard to watch, but it's the lack of funny that puts it on the border of unbearable. Very few of the jokes actually warrant smiles, let alone laughs. From 'Pineapple Express' director David Gordon Green, I expected it to be chock full of well earned laughs despite the story being so generic, but I was wrong. 'The Sitter' is just as boring in comedy as it is in story, making this should-be short 81-minute movie drag. An 87-minute extended cut of the movie is included, of which I only notice two very unfunny extended sequences.
I liked Jonah Hill in 'Moneyball,' 'Get Him to the Greek' and '21 Jump Street,' but 'The Sitter' is downright awful. Jonah Hill kills it – and not in the good way. There are many R-rated comedies out there worthy of your time and money, but 'The Sitter' isn't one of them.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Fox has placed both the theatrical and unrated extended versions of 'The Sitter' on a Region A BD-50. This set includes a DVD version of the theatrical cut and a Digital Copy of the unrated cut. The two-disc blue eco-friendly keepcase slides vertically into a glossy cardboard slipcase. A vanity reel and three menus play before the main menu, but all can be skipped over.
'The Sitter' features a very strong 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that leaves very little to be desired. It is DNR-free, edge enhancement-free, band-free, aliasing-free, artifact-free, and noise-free.
The first thing that will pop out is the vivid brightness of color. From the Fox vanity reel that opens the movie and on, the colors will constantly impress you with its larger than life vibrancy that never crosses the border to over-saturation. Fleshtones are lifelike and the blacks are heavy and deep. There's only one nighttime driving shot where bad contrast causes the slightest shadows to eat up detail – but it's such a short and insignificant shot that you have to be looking for it to notice it.
The picture is perfectly clean and sharp. So what is it that drops this seemingly 5-star video quality down? Some inconsistencies in sharpness. For the most part, 'The Sitter' is exceptionally detailed, but it tends to waiver. Shots within a certain scene may vary in the amount of details and texture that can be seen. One angle reveals the textures of clothes and makes individual strands of hair clearly visible, while the next angle makes the individual hairs of Hill's facial stubble look like smudging. Had it not been for this one problem, the video quality would be noteworthy – but as-is it falters.
'The Sitter' features an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that frequently employs all channels.
The movie opens with Color Me Badd's "I Wanna Sex You Up" mixed all around the theater. Music is widely used throughout the movie and the top-notch quality of it never ceases. As bad as the typical corny comedy scoring may be, it sounds just as strong as the pop music. The only problem created by the great music is that its volume tends to dwarf the vocal track. Had the vocals been raised just a hair, the audio quality, too, would be noteworthy.
'The Sitter' isn't the type of movie to warrant tons of audio effects, but when it does, they are strong. Going back to the opening scene, when Noah rides his bike home, you can hear subtle environmental sounds - like birds chirping - from all of the channels. A low to the ground shot of his bike tire makes way for spinning spoke effects so good that it will gain your attention. As toilets explode, glass breaks and cars crash, the audio shows off the most, making this a better than average dynamic.
I know people who think that Jonah Hill can do no wrong. To those people I ask, have you seen 'The Sitter?' It will change your mind. If you think this is a movie harshly criticized because that's the "cool thing to do," then I challenge you to sit down, give it a watch, and find good things to say about it. I don't know how an 81-minute movie (including credits) can seem to drag on for so long, but it does. The lack of laughs caused by unfunny jokes makes it feel even longer. The video and audio qualities are strong, but even if they were demo-worthy I still wouldn't recommend it. The special features are forgettable, short and pointless. If you're determined to see it anyway, rent it first. I'm certain that after watching it you will agree that there's an "H" missing in the title and that it's definitely not worth owning.