The Humor Mill

See JB Smoove & Method Man In 'The Sitter'!

Posted Dec 2, 2011

In case you haven’t heard, the new film The Sitter which opens next Friday December 9th starring actor Jonah Hill. The film also stars comedian and actor JB Smoove and rapper Method Man and we hear both have hilarious roles in the new film.

Here is a first look at JB Smoove in the film;

Here is a look at Method Man in the film;

Here is the trailer

And here is the film’s synopsis;

When the world’s worst babysitter (Jonah Hill) takes three of the world’s worst kids on an unforgettable overnight adventure through the streets of New York City, it’s anyone’s guess as to who is going to make it home in one piece.  Jonah Hill is THE SITTER, a new level of twisted and debauched storytelling from the director of Pineapple Express.

Subversive. Vulgar. Envelope-pushing. And that’s just the first few minutes of the comedy THE SITTER, which, after those unforgettable 200 seconds or so, proceeds to go to even more extreme lengths of verbal scatology, plus assorted drug runs, bar fights, and episodes of grand larceny.   Its cast of characters includes a drug kingpin, his fast-talking associate, a sexually selfish, coke-seeking woman, a trio of really, really effed–up kids, and a debased college dropout who earns his rep as the babysitter from hell only minutes after arriving on the scene.

Interwoven with THE SITTER’s raunchy fun are quieter and gentler comedic moments that sneak up to connect with audiences in unexpected ways.   The heart, soul and titular anti-hero of THE SITTER is Jonah Hill, who emerged as a formidable and original comedic voice in the films The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad, and who more recently was hailed for his dramatic performances in the acclaimed independent film Cyrus, and opposite Brad Pitt in the critical and box-office hit Moneyball.

Hill’s on-screen character, Noah, is not your typical entertain-the-kids-no-matter-how-boring-it-is kind of sitter.  Not even close.  He’s reluctant to take the sitting gig; he’d rather, well, be doing anything else, especially if it involves slacking.  “Noah is more of the ‘sit on the sofa, eat a burrito, and do-whatever-I-say-or-I’ll-kill-you’ type of babysitter,” says Hill.

Hill, who also serves as an executive producer on THE SITTER, worked closely with his director, David Gordon Green to ensure that the film had maximum comedic and emotional impact.  “The humor in THE SITTER is rowdy and bawdy, but it has a heart of gold at its core,” says Green, whose blockbuster comedy Pineapple Express, expertly merged the yin and yang of raunchiness and heart.

“David has a great sense of humor,” says Hill,” “but getting to know him, I realized that we also shared a desire to bring some unexpected texture, details and layers to the film.”

THE SITTER began life as a simple idea imagined by screenwriters Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka. “We thought it’d be fun to watch Jonah Hill, screaming and cursing at the kids he was babysitting,” says Gatewood.  “But then the challenge was, how do we make a movie around that idea,” adds Tanaka.  “We envisioned THE SITTER as more than a funny idea or sketch; we wanted to come up with characters that have arcs, and where things fall apart and somehow must be put back together.”

Along with screenwriters Gatewood and Tanaka, Hill, Green and producer Michael De Luca worked tirelessly to flesh out the story and characters, starting with the Sitter himself.  “Noah is at a crossroads in his life,” Hill explains.  “He’s been kicked out of school, he’s dating a woman who doesn’t treat him very well, and all he wants to do is hang out on his mom’s sofa and watch TV.  He doesn’t know what he’s going to do with his life.”  Adds De Luca:  “Noah is stuck.  He’s not moving forward with his life and he’s regretting some of his past choices.”

Noah’s choices in the present are, unsurprisingly, extremely limited.  It says a lot that Noah’s best option is a quick babysitting stint, which he very reluctantly agrees to, and then only to help out his mom, who’s eyeing a blind date with a surgeon (set up by the parents of the kids Noah is to watch).   “Noah just wants to get the babysitting gig over with, so he can go back to watching TV at his mom’s place,” Hill explains.

But once Noah becomes The Sitter, there’s no going back to his former life – whatever that was.  In the comfortable suburban New York home where Noah is to be spending the evening babysitting, lurk three youngsters – his would-be charges – that Noah will immediately, and justifiably, characterize as “freaks.”

The eldest, Slater (Max Records), 13, is riddled with anxiety and identity issues, for which he takes a disciplined regimen of pills.   Even with the meds, Slater is poised to freak out at a moment’s notice.   “I loved the character’s conflicted and surprisingly subtle nature,” says Green, “and Max, who impressed me with his work in [Spike Jonze’s 2009 feature film] Where the Wild Things Are, brings out all of Slater’s inner turmoil and dimensions.”

Then there’s Blithe (newcomer Landry Bender), 9, who enjoys playing dress-up…in pink palettes and slathered with her mom’s makeup.  Noah’s first encounter with the mini-“celebutante” is unpleasant: Blithe twice sprays him in the mouth with a bottle of floral perfume.  “She’s insane!” says Hill of the character.  “Blithe represents a segment of our culture whose entire world revolves around partying.  But, being nine years old, she has no understanding of what ‘partying’ and celebrity culture even mean.”

The casting process for Blithe was, like the character itself, non-traditional. “I wasn’t sure what I was looking for,” admits Green, “but I knew what I wasn’t looking for.  When Landry came in to audition, her authenticity and charm convinced us she could make Blithe’s unlikable manner, unexpectedly likable.”

The terrible troika is completed by ten-year-old Rodrigò (Kevin Hernandez), a defiant and explosion-happy mini-thug the family adopted in Mexico.  Rodrigo is not happy unless he’s blowing s*it up…literally; as Noah and the kids begin their misbegotten odyssey Rodrigò’s cherry bombs victimize several toilets across New York City. And his theft of a priceless item from the lair of an eccentric drug kingpin triggers an endless series of problems for the besieged Sitter.

Still, the filmmakers had no problem seeing the hardened youngster’s softer side.  “Rodrigò pretends to be a badass because he’s been bounced around foster homes, and thinks his time with his latest family will be limited. But he really wants to be a part of the family,” says Hill.  Adds Green: “Kevin brings a lot of fun to a character marked by tension and alienation.”

As the confrontations, arguments, fights, explosions, dive bar visits, and instances of grand larceny escalate, Noah finds himself actually relating to the kids. “Noah realizes each of them has problems and issues, and he actually begins to understand and help them work through those issues,” says Hill.

Offers De Luca: “All the characters are working the wrong angle.  They’re all on the wrong path and thinking they want what they don’t need.”  Together, they begin to figure things out.

For now, what Noah needs to figure out is his alleged quasi-“girlfriend,” Marisa, a manipulative, sexually self-involved woman whose request for Noah to score her some coke – with the promise of sex to follow – triggers the Sitter’s night to remember.  We meet Marisa, portrayed by Ari Graynor (Conviction) in the film’s opening moments, as she reacts to Noah’s oral ministrations. (“It was an, umm, interesting scene to shoot,” says Graynor, noting that Hill lightened things up considerably by singing a well know videogame song as the action unfolded.)  But when he requests she return the favor, Marisa declines, offering weak excuses.

Marisa’s selfishness is a formidable roadblock to likability but here, too, the filmmakers found a softer side to the character.  “Marisa is a tough customer, and a pain in the ass, but she’s also vulnerable,” notes Graynor.  “You come to understand that her hardened attitude stems from insecurities and a broken heart from a previous relationship.”

But it’s Marisa’s cold, manipulative heart that enables her to ask Noah to embark upon an impossible mission: to secure some cocaine for her – while he’s sitting three obnoxious kids.   Noah’s futile task results in him getting chased, punched out, and having his face plastered with a small mountain of the white stuff.   Marisa’s pushers of choice are Karl, an insane but oddly sensitive drug dealer, and his sidekick Julio.  Acclaimed actor Sam Rockwell (Moon) portrays Karl, and JB Smoove, best known for his work as Larry David’s pal on Curb Your Enthusiasm, is the fast-talking and profane Julio.

The two antagonists are so extreme, in unexpected ways, that Green admits, “I’m not sure we crafted those characters.  I think we just let them out of a cage and they exploded, and things got messy and out of control. We thought of Karl as a combination of James Cagney and Andy Warhol.”

Sam Rockwell notes that Karl is “dangerous, scary, and very funny. He sees Noah as more than just a customer; he wants to be pals with him, and being pals comes with trust.  When Karl thinks Noah has betrayed that trust, he is very, very disappointed in Noah.”

Julio has a somewhat more traditional approach to being a badass.  “I love being bad,” says JB Smoove in his signature rapid-fire patter.  “Julio is so bad, he doesn’t carry a gun – he doesn’t need it!  Julio wants to get what’s owed him, and to get it, pursues Noah across the city.”

Karl’s subordinate, Garv (Sean Patrick Doyle), never removes his signature roller-skates, as he wheels his way to greeting visitors to Karl’s lair, and running errands for his boss.  Garv’s loyalty and friendship are treasured by Karl – but that doesn’t prevent the drug kingpin from shooting him in the leg when Garv displeases him.

An extraordinarily bizarre character like Karl certainly merits an equally unconventional lair, so THE SITTER production designer Richard Wright crafted a surreal scientific laboratory and stronghold, where European techno trance pulsates, and ‘roided-up bodybuilders pump iron beneath pervasive fluorescent lights.

Bodybuilders?  Pumping iron?  In a drug lab?   “I just knew I wanted bodybuilders throughout this environment,” Green explains of the incongruity.  Wright was only too happy to oblige, with his imagination sparked by everything from epic Stanley Kubrick sets to ‘80s breakdance movies.

Another favorite set for the filmmakers was “Kid City,” a clothing store where Noah must interrupt his drug run, kids in tow, to buy some new undergarments for young Blithe, who has soiled the pair she’s wearing.  (“I sharted,” she announces in the car to the appalled Sitter.)  As Noah waits for Blithe to complete the change of clothing, he’s left alone in the girls’ underwear department.  Noah is confronted by a sales clerk, who understandably assumes he’s a pedophile, and who, it turns out, holds a longtime grudge against him.   Their confrontation will escalate throughout the story, to unexpected results.


THE SITTER, a genuine New York story, was shot last fall and winter on locations in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and an upper middle class neighborhood in Yonkers.  Brooklyn provided some colorful and historic locations, including the borough’s Williamsberg and Greenpoint sections, the latter providing various interior and exterior locations for Karl’s incredible bodybuilder-laden loft.

Queens’ Astoria Park provided the location for a poignant moment between Noah and Slater, with the skyline of Manhattan sparkling in the background, and the East River throwing off bursts of reflected light that made for real movie magic.  The Forrest Park Carousel, a historical fixture in the middle of a picturesque park, Grand Army Plaza, and Prospect Park provided the locations for a chase scene with numerous twists and turns.  Several interior sets were captured at the renowned Silvercup Studios West in Astoria, Queens.  Manhattan’s Chinatown provided a kind of otherworldly environment, where Karl and roller-skating Garv greet the shell-shocked travelers.

New York City – and the way we look at babysitters – may never be the same.

THE SITTER is in theaters everywhere December 9.

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