Basically “Bad Santa” crossed with “Adventures in Babysitting,” “The Sitter” stars Jonah Hill as Noah, an ambitionless doof living with his mother who cannot be bothered to answer the phone, much less find a job.
Overlong at 80 minutes, it is the intermittently comic story of a wild night when, pushed into agreeing to babysit three children, he decides to take them out so that he can pick up some cocaine to bring to a girl who has promised to have sex with him. Noah’s charges are Blithe (Landry Bender), a little girl obsessed with celebrity who disturbingly calls things “hot” and wants to go clubbing, Slater (Max Records of “Where the Wild Things Are”), a 13-year-old with anxiety medications in his fanny pack, and Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), a recently adopted firebug who enjoys throwing M-80’s down toilets. Ignoring every direction from the children’s mother and every basic tenet of good sense and responsibility, he puts them in the family car and takes off for the big, bad city.
Noah picks up $150 worth of cocaine from a drug dealer named Karl (Sam Rockwell) who surrounds himself with body builders and stores his drugs in irreplaceable and very fragile dinosaur eggs. When Rodrigo takes one of the eggs and spills $10,000 of cocaine all over the car, Karl gives him an hour to get the money. Noah and the kids have encounters with a store clerk who wonders why Noah is hanging around the little girls’ underwear department (you don’t want to know the answer), the gala Noah’s mother and the kids’ parents are attending, a fancy restaurant, a bat mitzvah party, Noah’s estranged father and his jewelry store, and a skeevy bar. Noah runs into a former classmate and the ex of the girl he is trying to, let’s use the polite word here — woo.
Even for a silly comedy, the carelessness of the racial and gender stereotyping is distracting. A sweet inter-racial romance and a heartening pep talk to a kid struggling with being honest with himself about being gay is not enough to make up for not one but two sassy/angry black women, a pool-hall full of black gangstas who are way too easily impressed with Noah, and Rodrigo, a pint-sized Scarface-in-training. The script is just a lazy series of set-ups and its two premises collide uncomfortably. The comedy, slight as it is, of the first half of the movie is based on Noah’s disregard for the most basic notions of decency and responsibility. He then somehow turns into SuperNanny, resolving all of the kids’ issues with cheery little pep talks, as though he is about to start singing about a spoonful of sugar. But this is no jolly holiday.
Parents should know that this film has constant extremely crude and offensive material including a very explicit sexual situation and sexual references, constant very strong language used by adults and children, drug dealing, robbery, highly irresponsible and risky behavior by adults and children, and violence including guns and explosives. There is some racial and gender stereotyping but a positive and supportive discussion with a gay middle schooler.
Family discussion: What were Noah’s best and worst decisions? How did the children make him think differently about his relationship with his father?
If you like this, try: “Superbad”