Comedy, 81 Minutes, 2012
I love “Inept adults taking care of precocious children” movies. “Uncle Buck” [IMDB] is a highlight of both John Hughes and John Candy’s careers. “Adventures in Babysitting” [IMDB] is one of those movies that you always linger on when flipping through channels. It’s a good formula. I also like Jonah Hill [IMDB] a lot.
This movie just didn’t work for me. Not at all.
The set-up is there: Noah (Hill), a true-and-honest fuck-up and professional doormat, gets roped into taking care of three kids. They end up having wacky adventures and, in the process, discover important truths about themselves. Everybody ends up stronger and wiser.
The first and primary problem is that Noah isn’t just a fuck-up, he’s also kind of an asshole. They’re adventures start because his selfish, immature sorta-girlfriend offers him sex if he’ll buy some cocaine and bring it to her at a house party. So he packs up the kids and goes. When circumstances dictate that he owes money to a dangerous drug dealer he tries to steal it from a young girl. Only after that fails does he hit up his estranged (but wealthy) father. When the drug-dealer catches up with the group Noah immediately runs away and leaves the children.
(It was also annoying that the youngest child spent the whole movie riding in the front seat with no seatbelt. This wasn’t a deal-breaker but it was irksome. It’s like nobody that made this movie actually spent time responsible for a kid. Ever.)
The second issue is that the kids just aren’t that likable either. They’re all silly, one-dimensional characters with a single problem eventually solved by the sporadically sagacious Noah. There’s also a lot of stupidity. For example, one of the kids spends the whole movie in pajamas and cowboy boots. Throughout the movie he sets off several explosions… but he only has pajamas and cowboy boots. In which orifice is storing the ordinance?
The humor tends to be very mean-spirited and dry. By way of explanation I’ll say that the absolute funniest part of the movie is when the little girl double-punches a guy in the balls and exclaims “That’s two in the nutsack!” Really – that’s the funniest part. I still think the basic premise is classic and worth reviving every now and again; this movie just wastes it.