Published Dec 08, 2011Fancy a new Adventures in Babysitting, with the sense of adventure replaced by bawdy humour? Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Your Highness) does in his continued mission to make winking, hard-R versions of '80s cheese from his youth.
Elisabeth Shue's role as the reluctant child minder who drags her charges into dangerous and unseemly situations because of an idiot friend goes to Jonah Hill (Cyrus, Get Him to the Greek), in this unofficial remake. Hill carries the picture as Noah, an amiable slacker who dates a selfish bitch played by Ari Graynor (Whip It). Well, "dates" is a bit misleading; she uses him as her own personal insecurity-powered pussy-muncher, with no intention of reciprocation.
Failing to have made any meaningful strides toward employment, Noah agrees to cover a babysitting gig for his mother so she can try to hook up with a surgeon at a swank party. The kids fill mostly stereotypical roles: pop culture parroting, celebrity-obsessed pre-tween Blithe; destructive and misunderstood adopted El Salvadorian Rodrigo; and nervous, high-strung eldest child Slater (Max Records, Where the Wild Things Are).
Admittedly, there is one rather effective contemporary twist integral to the emotional resonance of the film, but that's spoiler territory. After a bit of slapstick gets the primary cast acquainted, Noah's crotch provider calls, luring him into a coke run with the promise of "actual intercourse." Stealing the forbidden family minivan, Noah takes the kids on a trip to the sort of dark, but mostly just slightly bizarre, world of a drug dealer named Karl (the always entertaining Sam Rockwell), who runs a homoerotic bodybuilding gym and gets really intense about friendship status.
Along the way misunderstandings are had, old hurts are revisited, new relationships are forged and everyone learns a little something about life. It never feels like the stakes are high, with everything working out exactly as expected, and the mysterious undertones that helped make Adventures in Babysitting so memorable are sorely missed. Pretty much anyone could have directed this mediocre script – the weird camera rotations and bouncy editing of the intro never return, and the rest of the film is innocuously shot – but there's still enough heart and raw honesty to mark this as a David Gordon Green effort.
If Jonah Hill's innate comic sensibilities work for you, there are enough laughs in The Sitter to make it worth catching on a slow night. (Fox)