Filmmaker David Gordon Green has cited Martin Scorsese's After Hours and Jonathan Demme's Something Wild as inspirations for The Sitter. But Green should have fessed up to glomming from another '80s classic, Chris Columbus' Adventures in Babysitting, too: What starts as a ho-hum evening of suburban brat-watching turns into a crazed night of mobsters, menace, and mayhem in the big city.
Switch Elisabeth Shue for Jonah Hill, add heapings of sex and profanity, and there you go.
In The Sitter, Hill stars as Noah Griffith, a layabout nerd who reluctantly agrees to take care of a neighbor's kids as a favor for his single mom (with whom he still resides). His plan is to drop himself on the couch, pick up the remote, and vedge for a couple of hours. But then Marisa (Ari Graynor), his would-be girlfriend, calls from a party in the city, and so Noah piles his three charges - potty-mouthed princess Blithe (Landry Bender), anxiety-ridden 13-year-old Slater (Max Records), and El Salvadoran adoptee Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez) - into their parents' minivan. First, they have to score some drugs, and then, well . . . weird, wild stuff ensues.
Green has made a trio of quiet, beautifully crafted indies (George Washington, All the Real Girls, Snow Angels), and the instant stoner classic Pineapple Express. But he's also responsible for the instantly stupid medieval weed-com Your Highness - and while The Sitter isn't that dumb, or dreadful, there really isn't much going on here.
Strike that. There's a lot going on. The problem is that it's all predictable, pushing-the-R-rating raunch and carnage. Want to hear pipsqueaks spew profanity? Check. Want to see Rodrigo take a pee in the middle of a swank restaurant? Check. Want to watch gangstas getting mocked? Check. Want to see Sam Rockwell go psycho with a gun? Check. (He's a crazed coke dealer, of course.)
In summer's Moneyball, Hill proved himself capable of considerably more than the sardonic, slobby shtick we've become accustomed to seeing him do. His work with Brad Pitt showed not only energy and earnestness, but also a fierce intelligence - you could see the actor prodding himself into new territory, and it was kind of a thrilling thing to witness.
But in The Sitter, Hill is back in default mode. And his director seems to be, too.