With The Sitter, Director David Gordon Green obviously intended a latter-day Adventures in Babysitting. Take a charismatic lead, add a handful of adorable kids, and send them out for a night on the town where they run afoul of criminals. The twist? A hard R-rating, which Green undercuts with one safely sappy facile redemption after another.
If there’s any reason to see The Sitter, it’s to re-affirm that Max Records is a kid to watch. In Where the Wild Things Are, he was easily as fascinating as those enormous weird puppets, and whatever payoff that movie offered came from how good he was in his final scene with Catherine Keener. Records is one of those rare expressive child actors with a very adult grasp on what he’s saying, and how to express it even when he isn’t saying anything.
In The Sitter, when it comes time for Jonah Hill and Records to have their convenient redemption scene, you get good writing, two lovely performances, and surprisingly delicate subject matter for such an obtuse movie. It turns out Records’ character, a 13-year-old kid with psychiatric issues, is merely gay. Hill explains this to him, and Records lashes out and says he doesn’t want to be a “faggot”. “Don’t say shit like that,” Hill admonishes. He then explains to Records that, look, high school is really going to suck, but once he gets to college, no one will care that he’s gay. And then he’ll get an awesome job in the entertainment industry. Facile? Sure. But it’s the sort of scene that deserves a far better movie.
Also, The Sitter is a little fascinating for Sam Rockwell hopelessly miscast as a vicious drug dealer. No one handles being miscast with as much enthusiasm as Sam Rockwell.