The Sitter (2011)

Posted on September 25, 2013

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Synopsis

Noah Griffith (Jonah Hill) has been suspended from college and is living at home with his divorced mom, Sandy Griffith (played by Jessica Hecht). His “girlfriend”, Marisa Lewis, (played by Ari Graynor) appreciates his oral sex skills, but has no other use for him.

One night, Sandy’s friends the Pedullas (D.W. Moffett and Erin Daniels) fix her up with a doctor, but then their babysitter gets sick. Sandy doesn’t want to go without them, and she is terribly disappointed. With great reluctance, Noah agrees to babysit for the Pedullas.

Slater Pedulla (Max Records) is an uptight middle schooler. Blithe Pedulla (Landry Bender) is a celebrity-culture obsessed little girl. Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez) is an adopted boy who loves fireworks and explosions. Before Noah can get them to settle down, Marisa calls. She’s at a party and wants to make love to Noah…if he can bring some cocaine.

And so it begins.

Short Version

I would honestly describe this as Adventures in Babysitting for the 21st century. I mean that in a good way, but your mileage may vary.

Longer Version

This is going to be a bit shorter than some previous entries, because it didn’t outrage me with sexist treatment of characters, ridiculous criticisms about fight choreography, or technical issues.

I think you’ve got the context for The Sitter down. Let’s talk a little more about characters.

Noah’s father, Jim Griffith (played by Bruce Altman), hasn’t paid child support in years. It’s pretty clear that he only deals with the responsibilities that he enjoys. He’s passed that trait on to Noah. In fact, Noah’s reluctance to be a babysitter stems from Jim leaving Sandy for Noah’s babysitter.

When the movie begins, Noah’s greatest desire is to get laid, preferably by Marisa. His greatest fear is further disappointing his mother. It’s that greatest fear that triggers the start of the story.

Each one of the children has desires and fears. I don’t want to talk too much about them because it would give away too much about the movie. Just trust me that they are there.

Sandy is afraid that she will never love again. She has an image in her mind of her with a loving husband and a successful, happy, son.

The story of the movie revolves around how Noah’s reluctant acceptance of responsibility for the kids forces him to realize his mistakes. He gradually begins taking responsibility for them, apologizing when he can, and trying to do better. The more he does this, the more the story rewards him.

My hat is off to Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka, the writers, and to Brian Gordon Green, the director.

Marketing

The movie marketing that I remember make this out to be a cross between a teen raunch fest and a children-acting-badly farce. It isn’t.

This is a character-driven story with some outrageous characters (including Sam Rockwell as Karl, the drug dealer, and his best friend Julio, played by J.B. Smoove) and a tidy ending.

 Jonah Hill appeared in Accepted, Knocked Up, Evan Almighty, Superbad, Strange Wilderness, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Funny People, The Invention of Lying, Get Him to the Greek, and Moneyball before starring in The Sitter. He had starring roles in Accepted, Superbad, and Get Him to the Greek. All of those required him to play broad, loud, extreme characters.

No doubt it was that legacy the drove the marketing for The Sitter. For example:

Noah Griffith is a very different role for Jonah. It’s a much more low-key and subtle role. He has to carry the movie opposite kids, which is never easy. He has to carry scenes opposite Sam Rockwell, who is an amazing talent.

Do not be taken in by the marketing for The Sitter. There’s a lot more going on here than you realize. The Netflix recommendation was a good one for me, because it got me to watch something I would otherwise have skipped because of the marketing.

Conclusion

Here you have a movie where the director respected the writers’ work on the characters. All the shotguns go off by the end.

If you want a guilt-free movie where toilets explode and the characters learn and grow, check this one out. I recommend it.

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Posted in: Movies