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Perhaps if one took the job description "sitter" literally, Noah Griffith would be awesome at it. Because if there's one thing Noah knows how to do, it's sit. He's a natural, really. He can sit on chairs. He can sit on sofas. He's able to sit for hours at a time—sometimes working a television remote control while sitting. One might even call him a sitting prodigy, a reclining wunderkind. If there was a college-level class on sitology, he'd ace it. He'd teach it.
And he'd be able to do it from a seated position.
Alas, sitting—as in babysitting—is a more demanding profession. Not that Noah has any interest in reading the job description.
"Adult men don't babysit things," he tells his mother.
But his divorced mom's in a bind: Heading out to her first date in ages, she learns that the couple they were going to double with are in need of childcare. After some hemming and hawing (and sitting), Noah agrees to watch the couple's three waifs for a night. How much trouble could they be?
Sure, 13-year-old Slater is wound tighter than a bull rope and takes a fanny pack full of pills to keep himself sane. Sure, little sis Blithe has taken Jersey Shore's Snooki on as a personal role model. Sure, adopted son Rodrigo breaks pots, tosses bombs down toilets and has a disturbing fascination with fire. OK. Maybe the evening won't be easy or fun. But they'll still just stick around the house and wait for the parents to—
Noah answers the phone.
Hey, it's my girlfriend! She's at a party! She wants me to buy some cocaine for her from a psycho drug dealer! And if I bring her the cocaine, she'll let me have sex—
Noah's brain promptly disengages. That three-letter, monosyllabic utterance is enough to smother any other stray thoughts or values or motivations rattling around in his noggin. The question now becomes not whether to buy drugs from a psychotic drug dealer, but how fast he can complete the deal.
And the kids? Well, they'll just have to come along.
When a film's setup is "buy drugs for your girlfriend so she'll have sex with you," we obviously don't have a lot to work with here. But a few positives can be rescued from the muck:
Noah volunteers to babysit out of genuine affection for his mom. He's looking out for her happiness. And when the night snowballs out of control, he continues to try to protect her and her special evening from his avalanche of horrible decisions. "I need to clean up my mess myself," he says. (We're led to believe that it's the first time Noah's shown signs of maturity.)
He also develops a bond with his young charges, and together they teach one another some valuable life lessons: Blithe learns that being a celebutante isn't a worthwhile career goal. Rodrigo learns that his adopted parents might be more likely to keep him around if he spoke to them once in a while and stopped fire-bombing the bathroom. And Slater learns—well, I can't tell you what Slater learns in this section of the review.
When Blithe (all of 7 or 8) first meets Noah, she tells him that Noah's a "hot" name.
"It's biblical," Noah says.
"The Bible's a hot book," she says.
Slater is invited to a Bat Mitzvah, which Noah and the kids later crash. Drug dealer Karl tells Noah, "I pray for you. I really do."
The film opens with Noah engaged in oral sex with his sorta girlfriend, Marisa. We don't see nudity, but the scene is incredibly graphic and the language is quite explicit. Then, in a postscript, the audience is told that Noah hooks up with a new girlfriend who gives him oral sex frequently.
An argument with Blithe over what kind of underwear is "hot" ends with a store clerk thinking Noah is a pedophile who has abducted the three kids. Several uncomfortable "misunderstandings" follow, eventually forcing Noah and Blithe to flee the premises.
Slater is struggling with his sexuality—an issue that Noah tries to quickly smooth out for him. "You're as queer as a football bat, and that's fine," he says. The movie suggests that Slater's repression of his homosexuality was what necessitated all the drugs he carts around, and that once he's out of the closet all his mental anguish will be over. "Nothing's wrong with you." Noah insists. "You're normal. Just super gay." He gets quite angry with Slater when the kid uses a homosexual slur.
Karl surrounds himself with huge male bodybuilders, many of whom wear skimpy swimsuits and homoerotic attire. He likes hugging Noah, prompting more crude comments. His roller-skating assistant is stereotypically effeminate and threatens to strip-search Noah.
Rodrigo talks to a pair of prostitutes. Noah confronts the kids' dad about having an affair. (Blithe says she saw him and his assistant kissing.) Noah ogles the kids' mom. Jokes are made about venereal diseases. Characters use vulgar slang for various body parts. Noah makes a suggestive comment when a set of twins lead Slater onto the dance floor.
Karl shoots his "third best friend" in the foot. He fires several shots at party revelers and threatens to kill Noah. Noah throws a cherry bomb into Karl's van, onto the lap of its driver. It explodes, causing the man to scream. Later, we see him trying to get a taxi, his crotch on fire. Still later, we learn that he apparently died from the explosion.
Noah is punched in the face by a woman—thus earning her respect, and the respect of the gang she's hanging with. That means the gang beats up Karl instead of Noah. Noah is beaten up, though, by a famous local mixed martial artist. When the kids try to break things up, Rodrigo bites the man's ear, Slater hits him across the face with a skateboard and Blithe tags him in the testicles with both fists (making a crude comment afterward).
Rodrigo smashes several vases and pops party balloons—a prelude, really, to his primary fascination of dropping explosives into toilets. He destroys a bathroom in a swanky restaurant and nearly blows up an entire jewelry store. The bodybuilders take sledgehammers to a minivan.
Crude or Profane Language
About 50 f-words (including one uttered by little Blithe in the context of a song), 30 s-words and a bevy of other profanities, including "a‑‑," "d‑‑n," "h‑‑‑," "p‑‑‑," "pr‑‑k," "f-ggot," "p‑‑‑y" and "d‑‑k." God's name is abused more than a half-dozen times; Jesus' is abused once.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Cocaine is a major player in The Sitter: We see nearly bare bodybuilders refine the stuff in Karl's pad. We see Karl use it. We see him scoop it out of a large, Fabregé-like egg. We see Rodrigo steal a similar egg from Karl's bathroom. We see Rodrigo and Noah struggle over the egg, eventually breaking it apart and sending the $10,000 worth of powder billowing across the minivan. Characters drink and smoke (likely marijuana), and many act as if they're drunk or high or both.
We learn that Noah recently was arrested for driving under the influence, and he admits to Slater that he used to have an addiction to cough syrup. Rodrigo breaks a fancy bottle of whiskey. Rodrigo throws Slater's medication out the window and into a river, sending his brother into a panic.
Other Negative Elements
Against specific orders, Noah takes the family minivan. He later steals his father's car, drives to his father's store and takes several thousand dollars worth of jewelry. He also steals several thousand dollars Slater gambles playing pool at a bar.
Noah and the kids mislead the kids' parents about their nocturnal activities. He badmouths the dad. Policemen bust Noah for both stealing jewelry and possessing cocaine (and running a red light). But instead of arresting the guy, they simply take the goods and drive off.
Jokes are made about urination, defecation and flatulence. Rodrigo urinates all over a public ballroom, shocking attendees of the Bat Mitzvah. Several people slip and fall in a puddle of the stuff. Blithe accidentally soils her underwear. We hear that Noah vomited on someone's cremated remains.
Movies like The Sitter require viewers to suspend disbelief, incredulity, morals and at least 80% of their brain cells if they hope to survive the experience. Take kids to a drug dealer? Sure! Blow up a restaurant bathroom and escape? Great! Rob your own father blind? Why not? Wrap up the night—a night that boasts assault, drug possession, grand larceny and child endangerment—by driving back home in a completely trashed minivan (still coated in a sheen of cocaine) and pretending nothing went amiss? And getting away with it?! Why, it's all part of the story! Don't think! Go with it!
Never mind the fingerprints! The property damage! The wanton destruction! The kids are better for it all! Go with it!
Which, on further reflection, is just how this crazy, improbable night came to be in the first place. Noah didn't think. He just … went with it.
Of course, in real life just going with it often comes with consequences. Noah would be locked up somewhere by now (hopefully), and the kids would be working through the experience with the help of expensive counselors.
For your part, chances are that just going with it—that is, going to see The Sitter—won't get you jail time or necessitate years of therapy. But it's about as wise as dropping a cherry bomb in your toilet and standing there, waiting for the thing to go off. Sure, maybe it won't kill you, but it's guaranteed to leave quite a mess for you to clean up.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Jonah Hill as Noah Griffith; Max Records as Slater; Landry Bender as Blithe; Kevin Hernandez as Rodrigo; Ari Graynor as Marisa Lewis; Sam Rockwell as Karl; J.B. Smoove as Julio
20th Century Fox
December 9, 2011
March 20, 2012