I saw the new Jonah Hill comedy, The Sitter, over the weekend. I kind of went in expecting nothing, and pretty much came out receiving little worthwhile value in return.
Now, I must say, I didn't hate it. I didn't really like it either. It's just the kind of forgettable comedy you'd expect it to be when you watch the trailer. Why did I go see it then? Because I like going to the theater on the weekends, and the theaters by my house chose not to screen Tinker Tailor Solder Spy or Young Adult for whatever reason. This is while one theater I go to still had Tower Heist (!) still playing with 6 (!) showings on Saturday. Man, I wish I could manage a movie theater... There's got to be more return in a screen playing a critically acclaimed film, especially if you're the only theater in the area screening it, rather than showing a lukewarm film in its 6th week of release.
When I went to The Descendants two weeks ago, only one of the 4 theaters in my comfortably drivable proximity (of the Chicago suburbs, not hillbilly Appalachia, FYI) were playing it in limited release. I went to a 3:30 PM screening on a Saturday, and it was 95% sold out. It was a situation when a manager had to enter the theater and tell people to fill in gaps in the rows. It was 3:30 PM, and I had to sit in the front section of the theater AND had to sit next to strangers...! How many people do you think were in the same theater watching Tower Heist at 3:30? Ten? Five? Zero?
I just looked at the theater averages for this past weekend. Tower Heist pulled in an average of 1.2k this weekend. Limited release, critically praised, awards destined films pulled in different numbers... Young Adult (40k), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (75k), The Artist (18k), Shame (13k). I understand that some of them, like TTSS, are in specific four-city-type releases this week. Still, it seems like playing in-demand, critically recognized little films would be more worthwhile than films no one cares about, especially if they're in their 6th week. It just seems like a no-brainer for me as a theater operator to try and get Young Adult on (even just one of) my screens. But then again, I didn't go to business school. Or movie theater school. I just kinda wanna see these movies, please.
(I understand that possibly a lot of these theaters would enjoy having these small films, and perhaps just can't get them this early because of a strategic limited release by the studios or something; but this is sort of a "just saying" kind of argument on my part)
Oh yeah, I was supposed to talk about The Sitter, wasn't I? Sorry, it was just one of those kind of movies that wasn't really interesting enough for me to want to comment on it, and talking about movie theater business seemed more compelling.
I was watching an episode of The Daily Show yesterday on my DVR (I swear this isn't another tangent, it's relevant) in which Jonah Hill was the guest. He was talking about the movie, and he had this sort of gleeful enthusiasm about the project. "It's crazy, man, it's crazy! It's just the most insane movie, man!" It almost pained me how much he liked the final product of The Sitter, because it wasn't really all that memorable, or even all that crazy. It was nothing I hadn't seen before.
It's always hardest for me to critique comedies, especially pure comedies like this one (as opposed to a dramatic comedy), because it's such a subjective genre. But The Sitter was just such a lackluster effort in the plot and dialogue departments that it's easy to just say it wasn't very funny. It's short enough, and entertaining enough, that I didn't fall asleep or anything. But 10 outward laughs amidst a sea of cliche isn't exactly going to get me to say this was overall a deeply funny movie.
I don't mind Jonah Hill as much as a lot of people do. He's a comedic actor who was really popular 5 years ago, and now most people hate his success/formula/acting style/etc... (see: Seth Rogen, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Russel Brand, etc). For me, The Sitter was confusing in the sense that he was just in Cyrus and Moneyball recently; both films were he played seriocomic characters that were both interesting and seemingly required actual acting ability. In other words, it seemed as if Jonah's career was maturing into something greater. Even Get Him to the Greek had him playing a less profane, more mature character (than he usually plays). But The Sitter appeared sort of lost in time. It would have been a logical immediate follow-up to Superbad back in 2007. In 2011, it definitely feels like Jonah's career is backtracking slightly.
I look forward to what Skinny Jonah is about to bring to the film world, but The Sitter was not a great swan song for Fat Jonah.
R.I.P. Fat Jonah...
If I had to guess, I'd say this thing was an earlier project that languished in development hell for a while and meanwhile Hill's career took an upswing. The studio that was sitting on this looks at Hill's newpopularity and decides to drag this thing out of mothballs and blow it thru the theatres for some quick novelty cash.
Frankly, I liked this movie better starring Elizabeth Shue. And, her version had a memorable beat-the-parents-home montage, set to "25 Miles From Home".