Revenge of the Slacking Sitter |

Revenge of the Slacking Sitter

Lisa Miller
Adventures in sitting: a pre-slimmed-down Jonah Hill takes charge of three problematic kids in this week's "The Sitter."

Jonah Hill’s character Noah, describes himself as the sort of baby sitter who expects to sit on the couch and watch TV while the kids make themselves scarce. Oddly enough, that description more or less applies to this comedy – it’s like watching someone else’s TV program – sometimes amusing, but generally inappropriate.

Part of the problem arises from an underwritten plot dependent on Hill’s talents and chemistry with three cute kids, to persuade viewers to overlook numerous implausibilities. The film begins credibly enough. After dropping out of college, Noah is asked by his single mom (Jessica Hecht), to watch her friend’s three kids, thus enabling Mom to go on her first promising date in years.

Jonah may have left school, but where slacking is concerned, he’s got a master’s degree. His excuses have excuses, but he so readily cops to his failings that it’s nearly impossible to condemn him. That is, unless you’re spoiled by wealthy, neglectful parents like the three obnoxious cuties Noah must supervise during a night in Hell.

Clues begin to surface the moment he arrives at his babysitting gig, where Noah is first introduced to a heavily medicated, anxious 13-year-old Slater (Max Records) – occupying the couch Noah intends to inhabit. Next, he meets celebutante-worshipping 8-year-old Blithe (Landry Bender), slathered in rainbow make-up to complement her tiara, leggings and tutu. Finally, Noah meets the family’s project – Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), a demolitions-obsessed boy from El Salvador.

Noah is only slightly more mature than the kids, and even more desperate for self-affirmation. A fateful phone call provides all the motivation necessary for Noah to procure cocaine from a manic dealer (Sam Rockwell) – kids in tow.

He climbs behind the wheel of a minivan, despite the DUI suspending his license, and fails to keep an eye on Rodrigo, who quickly accrues a $10,000 drug debt that Noah must pay within the hour.

This complication leads to one of the film’s more enjoyable bits as Noah schemes to plunder the cash showered on a wealthy brat at her over-the-top Bat Mitzvah.

Along the way, Noah discovers an amazing ability to connect with children – perhaps because he is so childlike. He instinctively protects them and discovers courage he didn’t know he possessed. These qualities, combined with humor and honesty, make Noah appealing to a pretty, girl-next-door type whose attentions do wonders for his ego.

A slacker’s movie, “The Sitter” is about dreams coming true and getting revenge – without ever breaking a sweat. Those who have earned the price of a ticket, rather than borrowed the money to buy it, probably aren’t the intended audience.

However, as long as you’re there, tap into your inner slacker and enjoy.

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