The Sitter

By Cory Haggart

Mailed on July 31, 2012

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Dear David Paulin
Costume Ager/Dyer

Dear David,

Hi there. I am surprised you were required for this movie. Yours sounds like a job more befitting an historical epic or meticulous art film. You're not just making the clothes--you're giving everything the proper aging by hand. That has to serve a purpose. But if the rest of the movie is just going through the motions, what exactly did they need you for?

In The Sitter, Jonah Hill plays Noah, a funny-but-lazyboned dropout that gets guilted into babysitting for his mom's friend. The baby-sat kids, in this particular case, are essentially a Fox News list of top domestic threats: one is gay, one is slutty, and one is an immigrant. They exist in the movie as problems to solve, hurdles for our Noah to overcome: suburbanite versions of the ghosts from A Christmas Carol.

But before he can start on that, his girlfriend Marisa (played by the hopefully-intentionally-irritating Ari Graynor) calls asking him to bring cocaine to a party in far-off Brooklyn, for which he will be rewarded with sex. Noah pathetically (but understandably) tries to do just that. Then everything goes wrong. Then it seems to get better. Then it gets even worse.

I can't deny that it's fun. But, like the ash, abrasions, grease, blood, coke, and food stains you added to the costumes, the beats of the plot are obligatory, and since no one is really paying that much attention, just a bit unnecessary.

Maybe this is just another trivial summertime outing--the fruit popsicle between meals*. I'd let that slide, if it weren't for the walking, talking parables that are the kids. It's not the fault of the actors--they do fine, considering what they're given to work with. My problem is with their individual character resolutions, which show just how dangerously shallow this movie really is.

Your job is so valuable because you can't just "fix" jeans to look like the crotch has been set on fire. Hypothetically. That sort of thing takes time, and knowledge, and craft. The problems that each of the babysat kids are saddled with are so monumental, so loaded with the hopes and fears of specific segments of the American population, that it is appalling how quickly and simply they are solved.

In this movie, as the audience sits cuddled in its dark movie theatre, these core and compelling challenges shared by millions of kid - and society at large - are washed away with a night of shooting, drugs, fights, fire, car crashes, screaming, and a few short monologues. And a guy burns to death.

If that doesn't creep the hell out of you, you aren't paying attention.

Sincer regards,


*Though in this case, it's a fabulous dark-chocolate-covered cherry popsicle thanks to Karl the drug dealer, played by Sam Rockwell. He always brings it to everything he does, and this case, it seems like he dropped out of an entirely different movie (dessert) just to screw with everyone.

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