Originally published on Battleship Pretension.
It should be noted before beginning this review that I am not only a huge fan of director David Gordon Green. In fact, I am even known to defend his much hated bomb Your Highness. This has called my legitimacy as a film reviewer into question. Unfortunately, his latest raunchy comedy The Sitter, is not even as misguidedly ambitious as Your Highness and to me is a sign of laziness from a filmmaker I thought I would always defend.
As most know, or at least should know, Green began his career with beautiful and poetic independent films that caused many to call him the next Terrence Malick. Of course, the last three films to be released by this auteur have made some wonder if the man who brought us George Washington is still around.
The Sitter is a strange film, and to me was more frustrating than actually bad. It is clear there is a good film in there, but something happened in the editing room or during production, that seems to have disfigured what could have been a good comedy and turned it into a complete mess.
The film is short, in fact it is only 80-minutes and while some would be thanking Green for keeping this mess short, I was constantly wanting to see a longer cut. The film centres on a deadbeat living at home, who is forced to babysit for the rich family nearby. Jonah Hill plays the deadbeat, and does the most he can with the role. Green is clearly trying to harness the feel of 80s comedies, and to a certain point he has. Unfortunately, it is the worst of the 80s comedy that he has put to screen.
At such a brisk runtime, the heart of the film cannot keep up with the ludicrous and raunchy plot line. And while saying this film has heart may sound ridiculous, it is actually the element of the film that most surprised me.
It is a sincere film, and wears its heart on its sleeves. However, the heart is never given enough time to develop as the film keeps moving forward from set piece to set piece. When we are actually supposed to care about the characters, we feel almost forced to care as the core seems to have been edited out.
It is not only the pacing of the film that makes it frustrating but even more so were the aspects of it that hint at a great comedy. The cast is surprisingly good and elevate the script to much more than it is. Max Records, from the great Where The Wild Things Are, plays a anxiety-ridden 13-year old that is most likely gay and shows once again that he will be a true talent once he is older.
And while the drug-dealing elements of the film seem to be from an entirely different comedy, it is Sam Rockwell’s peculiar drug-dealer, Karl, that kept me laughing throughout. There are some incredibly strange choices that Green made with developing the character of Karl, for example, his hideout is in a warehouse filled with crack-smoking body builders. It is choices like these that made me want to like the film, unfortunately, the connective tissue between these great scenes is missing.
This film has not proven anything to me other than it is time for Green to move on from the comedy genre, and try something new. His first comedy Pineapple Express perfected the pot comedy, and since then his comedy chops have prove more disappointing than exciting. The Sitter is a frustratingly choppy film that may need a longer cut to be seen as it was originally envisioned.