A high school slacker who's rejected by every school he applies to opts to create his own institution of higher learning, the South Harmon Institute of Technology, on a rundown piece of property near his hometown.
When seasoned comedian George Simmons learns of his terminal, inoperable health condition, his desire to form a genuine friendship cause him to take a relatively green performer under his wing as his opening act.
Devastated Peter takes a Hawaii vacation in order to deal with recent break-up with his TV star girlfriend, Sarah. Little does he know Sarah's traveling to the same resort as her ex ... and she's bringing along her new boyfriend.
Noah, is not your typical entertain-the-kids-no-matter-how-boring-it-is kind of sitter. He's reluctant to take a sitting gig; he'd rather, well, be doing anything else, especially if it involves slacking. When Noah is watching the neighbor's kid he gets a booty call from his girlfriend in the city. To hook up with her, Noah takes to the streets, but his urban adventure spins out of control as he finds himself on the run from a maniacal drug lord. Written by
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The Funny Sporadic, The Drama Unwelcome, The Sitter Disappoints
As far as comedy goes, Jonah Hill has steadily made a name for himself as a star in the genre. Personally, his films have always been hit or miss for me, and I've come to the conclusion that his best work is reserved for those times when he has a solid, usually more naturally comedic, actor to support him. With The Sitter, he is already at a disadvantage; his main supporting actors are children and, for the most part, his abilities are front-and-center for the entire film, which was entirely his idea to begin with. The results are mixed at the best of times and, for the most part, lackluster in general.
What immediately screamed at me about the opening sequence was "trying very hard to get the audience's attention". I won't spoil the scene for those who haven't seen the movie, but you'll agree with me once you do. Before I go much further, let it be known that I am an extremely big fan of lighthearted, irrelevant humor (Anchorman is one of my most loved comedies, for instance), and for the most part these are the sorts of films Jonah fits into. The Sitter tries to emulate the formula of many recent successful comedies in terms of witty one-liners and clever trade-offs between characters, occasionally seasoned with a bit of more physical comedy. It's an old system, of course, and something I've more or less come to terms with as being "the norm" in popular comedic cinema. But what disappoints me about The Sitter is how many times it whiffs on the concepts; seemingly custom-made situations for Jonah's quick, nonchalant wittiness are, for the most part, poorly written and performed. The more action-based comedic portions of The Sitter involve a child with a penchant for explosives and some vehicle shenanigans that are rather uninspired and bland without the accompanying depth of creative dialog and jokes.
At some point, perhaps early on or perhaps towards the end, the movie takes a sudden shift into the dramatic, focusing on Jonah's character's relationship with his father or the troubles with his "girlfriend". These aspects of the film ring as hollow and somehow incomplete in the face of a heavy dose of relatively immature and inane comedy. The character development is far too sparse and, when it does take place, far too blunt and, again, uninspired to merit the delving into such intimate places. What does work, and this surprised even me, is how Jonah's character relates to the children he is babysitting. Being an eternal child at heart, Jonah's connection to his ward's problems feels perfectly natural and, in certain ways, touching to a degree. But ultimately it all feels out of place, like a scarecrow in an empty field; it would have a purpose if only it's surroundings were in better shape.
The whole film moves at an increasingly agonizing pace at it becomes more and more clear that you're actually waiting for something funny to happen. Not to say it doesn't happen; but the consistency is so off that it ruins the entire project. There's a certain level of bland, uninspired atmosphere that permeates the film, oozing out of it like a thick mud you cannot remove yourself from. And when you finally do, when the mood lightens and you actually catch yourself grinning or maybe even shocked to hear a chuckle cross your lips, you raise your foot from the mud...only to find your shoe still stuck in it. Relief turns back into aggravation and, more than anything else, you just want it to end.
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