You’re first clue that “The Sitter” isn’t “Mary Popins” is star Jonah Hill’s name above the title. Hill, the star of “Get Him to the Greek,” “Superbad” and “Funny People,” is no Julie Andrews. The second clue comes in the first thirty seconds of the movie, which cannot be described in this family friendly place without me blushing and turning beet red.
Hill plays Noah Griffith, a university drop out and general coach potato, roped in to babysitting for the neighbor’s kids. Even though he tells the kids– ten-year-old celebutant wannabe Blithe (Landry Bender), troublemaker Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez) and anxiety ridden Slater (Max Records)—he’s a “sit on the coach, at a burrito, do what I say or I’ll kill you, kind of babysitter” he takes the kids on a “field trip” to buy cocaine for a girl he has a crush on. Their night out involves accusations of pedophilia, cherry bombs, a baby dinosaur egg filled with drugs, stolen cars, a theft at a Bat Mitzvah and, in the end, like “Mary Poppins” a greater understanding of the importance of family.
That’s right, “The Sitter” is actually a bit more like “Mary Poppins” than you might first think. But in most ways it’s completely unlike the practically-perfect-in-every-way nanny. Take away the drug turf war, the grand larceny and racial stereotypes and you are left with a movie about familial relationships, doing the right thing, acceptance of others and loyalty. Trouble is the drug turf war, the grand larceny and racial stereotypes take up ninety percent of the movie.
Hill doles out advice like, “You shouldn’t waste your feelings on people who don’t value you,” between buying cocaine and robbing his father’s jewelry store.
I wouldn’t mind the warm-hearted sentiment if it didn’t simply exist as a lame attempt to temper the movie’s raunchier elements. It’s not a kid’s movie by any stretch so why the kid-friendly—and seemingly out-of-character—platitudes from Hill? I don’t think audiences primed for a raunchy comedy will care about the G-rated messages, and the only family who could possibly sit down and enjoy this together would be the Addams Family.
The slapstick is low energy, but at least Hill, in his last role before his extreme weight loss, raises the occasional laugh with his spot on comic delivery, but it’s a not enough to rescue this hybrid of R-rated jokes and family friendly sentiment.