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Sitter, The


Stars: Jonah Hill, Max Records, Ari Graynor, Sam Rockwell, Landry Bender, Kevin Hernandez, J.B. Smoove

Director: David Gordon Green

Comedies about oddball babysitters at odds with their charges are hardly a groundbreaking concept: such family comedies as Adventures in Babysitting and Uncle Buck succeeded in amusing their target audience.

This grisly example of the genre is hardly aimed at family audiences despite its basic storyline – a novice babysitter is saddled with three young children and takes them on a wild night on the town.

So far, so genre.

Where The Sitter differs, however, is that it is lewd, rude, crude and foul-mouthed enough to make it a Channel 4 choice. The film has a ‘15’ certificate. The Americans saw it differently. There the MPAA rated it “R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and some violence”.

The opening scene which sees suspended college student Hill with his face buried in his girlfriend’s lap, sets the bar low right from the start and scenarists Brian Gateward and Alessandro Tanaka and director Green rarely bother to attempt to raise the tone. Left with his three charges – 13-year-old Records (“I have severe anxiety issues”) his celebrity-seeking and painfully precocious 9-year-old sister Bender and adopted would-be thug Hernandez with a penchant for blowing up toilets with cherry bombs – Hill steals their parents’ car and takes the kids for the night on a town.

It's a night that features, among plenty of other less than family-oriented aspects, Hill’s attempt to buy drugs for his girlfriend – or, rather, the girl he believes is his girlfriend – which ends up with deranged (and overacting) druglord Rockwell vengefully pursuing him – along with a variety of ruckuses, Hill stealing his estranged father’s car and then robbing his jewellers, Hernandez urinating in public during a Bat Mitzvah party, police chases and enough unfunny slapstick to transform the painted-on grin of a circus clown into a well-justified scowl.

The most amusing aspect is that its three juvenile actors are too young to go and see the film. They’re really fortunate. Hill has no real excuse for making his haphazard hamming available to cinema audiences– he is one of the film’s producers.

Still, to give the makers their due, they've stuck to Einstein's Theory of Relativity and made the 81 minutes running time seem like a lifetime.

Alan Frank

USA 2011. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Technicolor.
81 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 3, Swearing 3.

Review date: 18 Jan 2012