Director David Gordon Green has come a long way since Undertow and Snow Angels. I guess the comedy bug hit him with Pineapple Express and his time working with Danny McBride on Eastbound and Down has produced some of the most vile, offensive, hedonistic and, thus, funniest television I have ever seen. Just in time for the holidays, Green is back in the comedy saddle, this time with Jonah Hill grossing us out in The Sitter.
But let me cut to the chase. With this comedic romp, Green has made the worst movie of his once illustrious career and possibly the worst film I saw this year. But I really don't know why it ended up so bad. The premise is good, the ideas seem funny, but instead of a crude comedy we get a tired, soul-searching, "everything's-fine-if-you-just-accept-yourself" fable. In the end we get a Disney pic with swearing.
Beginning with a raunchy little scene and an in-joke nod to James Franco's soap-opera acting in the background, it seems we're going to see a continuation of Hill's Superbad character shooting off X-rated one-liners, proving his role choices have still yet to mature, even if he did gain some respect for his work in Moneyball.
But as quickly as the crudeness appears, it's taken away. Hill's comic timing and command of banter is awesome, but is lost in this mishmash of moral ideology and channeling of various '80s flicks. Basically, this movie is a more curse-laden Adventures in Babysitting. We've seen this all before: disgruntled babysitter has something better to do (like have sex and do drugs), so the sitter takes the kids on one raucous escapade after another, racing to complete tasks before the parents return. We spend the entire movie waiting for Sitter to go wild, but it never does, instead segueing from one lecture to another on "how to be yourself" amidst bad stereotypes and foul-mouthed dialogue.
This should work in the hands of Green, but the ball drops straight to hell when we realize that the babysitter is going to continue to heroically dish out nuggets of wisdom to these troubled kids. And what's the deal with filmmakers once again wasting the talent that is Sam Rockwell? (Yeah I'm talking to you, Iron Man 2 and Cowboys and Aliens). Sam does his best as the conflicted drug dealer, but he's up against a barricade of bad ideas.
Usually a movie that makes this many mistakes redeems itself with at least a couple of decent scenes. Such is not the case with The Sitter. Sold to us as the raunchiest holiday flick ever by its previews, the true vulgarity of this lazy, embarrassing and boring movie is the fact that its creators expected anyone to like it.
Starring Jonah Hill, Sam Rockwell, Ari Graynor, Max Records
Directed by David Gordon Green