Zippy but unappealing sub-Apatow comedy starring Jonah Hill
After springing to stardom in Superbad, Jonah Hill gets his first lead role in The Sitter, an amiable low-brow comedy from director David Gordon Green which throws Hill’s laid-back slacker persona into a similar underworld of criminal hijinks as that of Green’s biggest hit to date, Pineapple Express.
Hill plays Noah Griffith, a work-shy student whose mother persuades him to babysit for three children to allow her to go on a date. Noah hopes that cerebral but sexually confused Slater (Max Records), precocious Blithe (Landry Bender), and adopted rebel Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez) will take a back seat in his minivan but they all end up on the city streets, tangling with various drug mafia types (namely Sam Rockwell and Method Man).
Casting the passive-aggressive Hill as an irresponsibly bad babysitter ensures a few laughs, and the commendably brief 81-minute running time doesn’t let the plotting sag. But for Hill, so effective as Brad Pitt’s foil in Moneyball, The Sitter feels like treading water; his likable persona is pretty much all that Green’s film has to offer other than contrived gangland situations and the same kind of heavy-handed moralising that’s a regrettable staple of the sub-Judd Apatow comedy genre.