A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while this "babysitter gone wild" comedy may target teens -- especially those who are already Jonah Hill fans -- it has so many hard-R references to sex, drugs, and violence that it's not age appropriate for young teens. There's near-constant use of expletives (from the ubiquitous "motherf--ker" to "bitch" and everything in between), jokes about sex, a guy-on-girl oral sex scene, overt cocaine buying and use, references to a young teen's homosexuality, and plenty of sketchy and/or criminal behavior. Adoptive families may not appreciate the way the subject of adoption is depicted. It's all intended for laughs (what kind of college-aged student would really take three kids to a drug dealer's lair?), but that doesn't mean it's OK for younger viewers, so be prepared to stick to your guns if you have tweens and young teens who want to see it. Note: The unrated version (available on DVD) includes additional content not included in the theatrical release, including a topless woman.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Noah Griffith (Jonah Hill) is a slacker college dropout living with his divorced mom (Jessica Hecht) in the New York suburbs. When not engaged in his one-sided pseudo relationship with the manipulative Marisa (Ari Graynor), he usually lazes about and watches TV. But when his mom's blind date falls through because her friend's sitter cancels, Noah begrudgingly accepts the job. His charges include Slater (Max Records), a 13-year-old with severe anxiety issues; Blithe (Landry Bender), a first grader who fancies herself a "celebutante" reality star in the making; and Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), a tween Central American adoptee who lashes out without warning. When Marisa calls promising Noah sex if he buys cocaine and brings it to a house party, he agrees -- and takes the kids on a crazy, dangerous trip through Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Is it any good?
If you crossed Adventures in Babysitting and Uncle Buck and added a healthy wallop of Superbad humor, the end result would be this simultaneously cringe-worthy and entertaining comedy. THE SITTER's plot is definitely, as the kids say, "off the hook." Between a dangerous misunderstanding with the eccentric coke dealer Karl (played by Sam Rockwell, who seems to be having the time of his life), an ill-fated attempt to secure $10,000 cash from a pile of bat mitzvah gifts, and a heartbreaking confrontation with Noah's rich but uncaring father, the movie's adventures are illegal and immoral ... but also life-altering for both the sitter and the kids.
Through all the antics, Hill reminds viewers how even the least improbable protagonists can win over audiences. It's not an easy movie to watch, particularly when you've left your own children in the care of babysitters time and time again, but with its old-school hip-hop soundtrack, some brilliant one-liners, and -- as strange as it may seem -- a positive message about the staying true to yourself and finding your place in a family, The Sitter is a surprisingly amusing, albeit quite naughty, cautionary tale about what happens when parents are away for the night.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether The Sitter is intended to have positive take-aways, or if it's just meant to be funny. Does learning life lessons justify the craziness?
Bullying is mentioned as a part of both Noah's background and Slater's future. Teens: What's the best way to handle bullying?
What's the appeal of "raunchy" comedies? Do they cross the line? Who determines where that line falls?
- In theaters: December 9, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: March 20, 2012
- Cast: Jonah Hill, Max Records, Sam Rockwell
- Director: David Gordon Green
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 81 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and some violence
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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