Downhill – The Sitter review

The Sitter – Starring Jonah Hill, Ari Graynor, and Sam Rockwell. Directed by David Gordon Green. Rated MA. By Richard Haridy.

The Sitter arrives on DVD and Blu-ray July 25, 2012.

Jonah Hill starred in two films in 2011; one of those movies, Moneyball, garnered him a well-deserved Academy Award nomination, whilst his other, The Sitter, barely received a release. Finally sneaking out onto DVD in Australia, The Sitter is such a magnificently unfunny experience that at times it becomes rather gripping to watch in a way that can only be achieved when truly talented people misfire spectacularly.

Hill plays Noah, a slightly confusing character who alternates between being a loser, a rebel, and a cool guy depending on what best serves the screenplay’s function. Noah ends up babysitting a group of three ragtag kids and over the course of one ‘zany’ night they all learn something about themselves. It’s as simple as that.

The ‘babysitting’ comedy is a tried and true genre – from Uncle Buck to Adventures In Babysitting –  and The Sitter is self-aware enough to know what sandbox it’s playing in, but the stunning lack of humour and energy is fascinating to behold. Everybody is a bland cipher, from Sam Rockwell‘s body-building drug-dealer to one of the most one-dimensional love interests (Ari Graynor) I’ve seen in a long time. The picture plods along from episode to episode before concluding on such a conventional note that I got the impression everyone involved gave up half way through and handed it over to an intern to finish.

Director David Gordon Green, who as recently as eight years ago was compared to a youthful Terrence Malick, hits his true career nadir here after spiralling downward over the last five years with comedies Pineapple Express and Your Highness. The Sitter was the last feature Jonah Hill shot before he slimmed down and it feels like a cosmic irony that it’s being released within a week of 21 Jump Street (with ‘skinny Hill’) hitting DVD. This contrast finally puts to bed the myth that fat comedians become unfunny once they slim down. The Sitter is mediocrity at its finest;  too boring to hate and too forgettable to get angry about. Save your money and rewatch Uncle Buck instead.

2/5

The Sitter arrives on DVD and Blu-ray July 25, 2012.

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