Why Jonah Hill’s latest film doesn’t ‘Sit’ well with me
blog by The Canisius Griffin • December 09, 2011 @ 5:47pm
“Superbad” put Jonah Hill on the map back in the summer of 2007. The film followed three high-school seniors just trying to get laid before summer was out and they’d have to leave for college. Together, they embark on a quest to obtain alcohol for the “cool kid’s” party where they could potentially fulfill their goal. Things don’t go as planned though and hijinks ensue. Hill played Seth, the cranky, overweight member of the group who never had anything nice to say about McLovin… I mean Fogell. He was infatuated with Jules, played by Emma Stone, and wanted to sleep with her more than anything. It was a somewhat tired premise that felt fresh again thanks to a wickedly clever script, insane plot and really strong performances. Let me repeat though: that was in 2007.
Last year, he teamed up with Russell Brand in the comedy “Get Him to The Greek.” That film had Hill’s character escorting/babysitting the crazy fictional rock star Aldous Snow created in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Hill’s character Aaron, a record company intern, has to get Snow from the airport to a gig at the Greek Theater. Things don’t go as planned though, and hijinks ensue.
In December, Hill’s latest feature, “The Sitter” will be released. He plays a cranky, overweight college kid who has to babysit a crazy group of kids. His night changes drastically when the girl he wants to sleep with calls him up and says, “I was thinking we could have sex.” He packs the kids up in a minivan and sets out to get laid. It’s like if “Adventures in Babysitting” were directed by Judd Apatow rather than Chris Columbus, or if in “Get Him to the Greek” Aldous Snow was three crazy kids, or if in “Superbad” getting laid was getting laid. But wait, guess what? Things don’t go as planned, and again, hijinks ensue. If you’re beginning to sense a pattern here, well, good for you. If not, you’re probably looking forward to “New Year’s Eve,” aren’t you?
I have a problem with this film/formula for a number of reasons, so allow me to break it all down for you. Since those last two films, Hill has lost a considerable amount of weight. Some would say he’s unrecognizable. He has yet to appear in an actual feature film since the weight loss, but he did star in a pretty sweet series of commercials for “Modern Warfare 3” alongside Sam Worthington, in which he starts out as a “noob” and slowly becomes a soldier. The commercial was representative of Hill’s transformation in the past year, after the weight loss and a role in the semi-serious Brad Pitt film “Moneyball.” My concern lies in the fact that he’s presenting two contrasting brands or images at the same time. On the one hand, we’ve got the slimmed down, more mature Jonah Hill, and on the other there’s the overweight, always-yelling version he’s been slowly distancing himself from. While release dates and studio-end business is mostly beyond his control, I think the release of “The Sitter” could hurt this evolution.
Another issue I have with the film is with the folks behind the camera. In the director’s chair is David Gordon Green. He’s responsible for “Pineapple Express,” a relatively funny stoner-buddy comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco (who apparently wasn’t just acting). Green’s most recent film to hit theaters was “Your Highness” back in April. In case you missed it, which you probably did, it was the stoner-sex-comedy-action-adventure film set during medieval times. It starred Natalie Portman fresh off of her Best Actress win for “Black Swan,” James Franco following his Worst Host win for The Oscars and Danny McBride aka the guy with the curly mullet who’s in everything. It was “high”-brow stuff with a top-notch cast, and it was a colossal failure that barely managed to recuperate its own production budget. The film was essentially a mash-up of “Pineapple Express” and “Monty Python,” minus the success and plus the embarrassment for everyone involved.
So to recap thus far, the film follows a stale formula that Hill’s visited several times, from the director of two “Harold and Kumar” rip-offs, from a script by a couple of newcomers.
Could it possibly get worse?
For the next few months we’ll be subjected to endless quoting of lines like “I let my haters be my motivators,” if the film is a success. I just hope Bill Cosby gets residuals every time a kid says the darndest thing because it’s the oldest trick in the book. It just adds to the already tired formula.
Why do I harbor so much hate for a film I haven’t even seen? It’s actually because I’m a big fan of Hill. I think he’s a talented comedian, but I fear he’ll be pigeonholed if he continues to accept roles like this. Let me make this as clear as possible: I do not want Jonah Hill to become the male equivalent of Katherine Heigl. Besides, Vince Vaughn’s already got that on lock. Hill’s next role puts him alongside Channing Tatum in the remake of “21 Jump Street,” and it will be the first film to showcase his weight loss and skills as a screenwriter. His career is at an interesting crossroads, and hopefully “The Sitter” marks his last role as the cranky, overweight kid on a quest where hijinks ensue. At least until they remake “Superbad.”
Photo courtesy of Flickr / Will Folsom.