MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on DVDs. The Sitter, Louder Than a Bomb, Hop

THE SITTER (Also Two Disc Blu-ray/DVD combo)  (One and a Half Stars)
U.S.: David Gordon Green, 2011 (20th Century Fox)

Well, I’ve had it.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. After defending David Gordon Green for making Pineapple Express, a controversially violent stoner comedy that I think is well-acted, well-directed and hot-damn funny, and after sparing some kind words for Green’s and buddy Danny McBride’s medieval four-letter-fest Your Highness, a movie hated by many, I now find myself confronted with this silly-ass comedy and harebrained Jonah Hill vehicle The Sitter, a movie that tries to stuff the white-boy car-crash raunch of The Blues Brothers and the paranoid comedy of After Hours into the kids-out-all-night plot of Adventures of Babysitting, and comes up with something just this side of Adventures in Idiocy or maybe Francis the Talking Mule Goes to a Swinger’s Club or maybe Plan 9 from a Night at the Roxbury.

The Sitter is a typical dirty-mouth teen/tween comedy, better looking and better shot than usual, that sends the talented and normally more selective Hill, as Noah, careening around the city in his babysitting client’s stolen minivan, with his three juvenile charges, trying to find some cocaine for his outrageously selfish girlfriend Marisa (Ari Graynor), after being forced to sub for an absent sitter for a neighbor‘s three kids, so his single mom Sandy (Jessica Hecht) can go out on a hot date.

Whheeew! Noah, a slacker and college escapee who still lives at home, may be the world‘s most reckless babysitter, and these are the kids from hell. They include Slater (Max Records, of Where the Wild Things Are) who’s gay, or wants to be, Salvadoran foster child Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez), who likes to smash crockery, and blow up toilets with fireworks, and Blithe (Landry Bender), a heavily made up 8-or 9-year old charmer who comes across as a cross between Margaret O’Brien and the Hollywood Madam and tells Noah he has a hot name, because it comes from the Bible, which is a hot book.

Did we say Noah was reckless? Somehow, he has persuaded himself that it’s okay to steal their daddy’s minivan and take the three kids along on this coke-hunting expedition, though it would make more sense, and be funnier, if he showed a qualm or two. He also takes them to parties with booze, and a black pool hall where Noah out jives the jivers and earns respect with a little improvised Afro-lingo. Then, after some more illegal foolery, he blows up a  jewelry store after stealing some diamonds to pay back the insane coke dealer “Karl-with-a-K” (Sam Rockwell), after dropping and blowing Karl’s cocaine all over the front seat of the minivan.

Meanwhile, Rodrigo keeps wandering around in his pajamas blowing up toilets (Noah never seems to realize there‘s some danger in leaving this guy alone, near plumbing) and Noah is mistaken for a pedophile and later gives a sexual identity lecture to Slater (whom he predicts will wind up in the entertainment industry, possibly as the author of The Sitter 2), and everybody seems to later forget that Noah robbed and destroyed a jewelry story in front of three witnesses (the kids).


Are you laughing yet? The movie ends happily, when Noah’s jive buddies show up in the nick of time, like Sergeant Rutledge and the Cavalry, to rescue everybody from Karl and his man Julio (J. B. Smoove). Oh damn, I just gave away the ending! Well, sue me. Why are you reading a paragraph tagged “Spoiler Alert” anyway? Trust me: You don’t want to waste money on this stinker unless you‘re a Green completist, or a Hill completist, or a Landry Bender completist or a complete nincompoop. And remember, I saw it for free. (I still wanted my money back.)


The Sitter is not badly directed or acted — Hill and Bender and Method Man are all pretty good, and everybody else is at least passable — though it’s horribly written. Some of it is funny. Most of it is not. Overall, it’s a movie so stupid and tasteless, that you feel embarrassed laughing at it. Or maybe you laugh at being embarrassed by it. I’m not sure which.

Or maybe you just wish Green would abandon raunch-comedy for a while and try something else instead: maybe make his own version of his often-mentioned film favorite Deliverance. (He could cast Danny McBride, Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill in the Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Ronny Cox and Ned Beatty roles, and Billy Bob Thornton as the crazed hillbilly. No, scratch that idea.)

The Sitter, by contrast, feels like a movie that might have been written and directed by the three idiots in the seats in the seats in front of you who keep making loud dumb jokes and inappropriate sounds and throwing popcorn all over each other, and who cap the festivities by barfing all over the floor and staggering out singing “Louie, Louie.”

That would be okay, except that one of these three clowns is supposedly David Gordon Green, whose earlier movies George Washington, and All the Real Girls and Snow Angels are terrific indies or little films and whose Pineapple Express was a very funny big-budget comedy. (Judd Apatow’s influence, amybe.) But to tell the truth, I never though Green was going to make a life’s work out of this. I never thought he’d wind up making movies like Topher Grace’s Take Me Home Tonight, much less a movie that makes Take Me Home Tonight look sensible by comparison.

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s only a movie. But it’s only a bad movie. Other people make bad, dumb movies better — or badder. (And dumber.) Why try to compete? Who’d ever have thought a day would arrive when we’d look back fondly at the good old days of Adventures in Babysitting? (Elisabeth Shue, where are you? Save us!) Or a day when we could actually worry that David Gordon Green might actually sign up to direct Biodome 2 or License to Drive: The Reunion or Dude, Where‘s Our Cars: The Threelogy? Well, life sure takes some crazy twists. Meanwhile, check out Deuteronomy some time. A hot book, dude. Maybe needs a few fireworks-in-the-john scenes, to punch it up.

LOUDER THAN A BOMB (Three and a Half Stars)

U. S.: Greg Jacobs & Jon Siskel, 2011

Louder than a Bomb made me feel good about some of the kids of today, made me feel that they’re probably being maligned, at least in part, by most other American movies that try to show us contemporary U.S. teenagers. The movie, a multi-award-winning documentary co- directed by Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel (Gene‘s nephew), takes us into the high schools of contemporary Chicago, and shows us something besides the usual teen-sex shtick: all those nerds, babes, studs, clowns and bullies swaggering down the halls, and the glam rock and the worm turning.

Bomb, on the other hand, is a celebration of real teenagers and of a whole other art form — not a new one, really, but one that was fairly new to me in this getup: the “Louder than a Bomb” Poetry Slam.

Specifically it’s about the 2007-2008 Louder than a Bomb that pitted poetry teams from over 60 Chicago area high schools against each other. The movie concentrates on four teams — from Oak Park/River Forest (Ernest Hemingway‘s alma mater), Whitney M. Young Magnet High School (Michelle Obama‘s alma mater), Steinmetz (Hugh Hefner’s alma mater), and Northside College Prep (which may some day be known as Adam Gottlieb’s alma mater).

Adam is one of the kids the movie follows: an unusually sweet, smart, gifted guy, with a little of the elfin charm of the young “Alice’s Restaurant”-era Arlo Guthrie. Jacobs and Siskel make a real protagonist of him, along with the absolutely incandescent Novana “Nova” Venerable of Oak Park/River Forest, the beguiling, smiling Nate Marshall of Whitney Young, and virtually the entire eloquent and powerful Steinmetz team, tagged the “Steinmenauts” — especially Lamar “Tha Truth” Jorden, Jesus “L3” Lark, and Kevin “KVO” Harris.

No, let’s make that all of the Steinmenauts: Jonathan “Freaky” Carillo, Lauren Iron, She’Kira McKnight, Charles “Big C” Smith and Travell Williams too — with James Sloan and John Hood coaching. Watch them go. They’re a real team.

The nicknames of the Steinmenauts point up the relationship of the poetry contests here to rap, a musical form that‘s never much appealed to me, except for Grandmaster Flash‘s “The Edge.” But this is more than rap: It’s something maybe akin to the old beatnik coffeehouse readings (including the one where Allen Ginsberg read “Howl”), and to spoken poetry as it’s been passed down though the ages, since the ancient Greeks.

These kids howl, chant, recite, tell stories (mostly drawn from their own lives and the things they know), and they storm the heavens of language and self-revelation. Some of them, like Nova and Lamar, become truly spellbinding.

You should see this movie. At its worst, it’s still sometimes inspirational. At its best it’s maybe like watching the young Allen Ginsberg, howling.

Hop (One and a Half Stars)
U.S.: Tim Hill, 2011 (Universal)

Hop. Thud.

Animated features, which are sometimes ghetto-ized as “children’s movies,“ have been among the brighter spots on the big studio schedules of the last few years. But Hop has a script that, on the screen, plays just as crummy as any gore-besotted alien monster massacre, any crash-happy action thriller, or any addle-brained rom-com that comes rolling out of Shameless-Hackland. It’s a big glossy, laughless botch.

Listen, I love bunnies as much as the next guy — and, in this movie, one of the next guys is Hugh Hefner — but this is ridiculous. This cutesy-wootsie saga of Easter Bunny slackers, evil Easter Chicks, L. A. layabouts, rock n’roll bunny wannabes, and a revolution on Easter Island (land of the Easter Bunny in this movie) is an insult to the intelligence of the seven-year-olds who will be its most receptive audience.

For about five minutes at the start, the movie had me. I was momentarily dazzled by its spectacular candy factory opening, where the camera flies down to the truculent statue-heads of Easter Island, darts down a secret passageway and finally swoops along the conveyor belts and chocolate vats and candy thingumabobs where all Easter stuff is supposedly being made — all as smoothly as a series of Max Ophuls tracking shots in Tim Burton-land.

It even had me when it introduced the somewhat annoying lead human character, slothful slacker and Easter Bunny fan Fred O’Hare (played by the live James Marsden of Enchanted), whom we meet as a little boy (Django Marsh), enchanted when he catches a glimpse of the Easter Bunny dropping off baskets, and thereby developing a lifelong bunny fixation.

It sort of had me when screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio and director Tim Hill drag on the lead cartoon characters: the Easter Bunny himself (voiced by Hugh Laurie, in a half-funny Brit snob routine), the Big Bunny’s rock ’n roll wannabe son, Spielbergishly named E.B. (Russell Brand), and the scheming, rebellious Easter Chick Carlos (Hank Azaria, with a burlesque Mexican accent).

And I still hadn’t wised up when E.B. decamped to Hollywood, where he hooks up with Fred, and starts pooping jellybeans and trying to come up with so-called humor (lame zingers and amazingly laugh-challenged wisecracks), and where the movie definitively revealed its true agenda: bad jokes and L. A. clichés, mixed with elaborate animation, TV meta trendiness and loud, bright icky-poo cutesy-wootsies.

By then, Hop had turned into the usual rancid Hollywood wish-fulfillment semi-satire. Icky. Poo. I hesitate to synopsize further, but here we go: Fred — on his way to a local mansion, where he was unwisely house-sitting, thanks to his all-too-indulgent sister Sam O‘Hare (Kaley Cuoco) — nearly runs over E.B. The wascally wabbit wannabe fakes an injury and gets himself an unwise invite to the mansion, and the guys are then free to pursue their dreams: E.B.’s of being a rock n’roll drum god. Fred’s, I guess, of being an Easter Bunny, maybe even the Big Bun himself. And the movie’s dream of being a bunny Santa Clause 2 (another partly Cinco-Daurio written movie), with long ears and twitchy nose, festooned with jelly bean poop.

Oh, did I mention that there’s a big talent show, called “Hoff Knows Talent,” fronted by David Hasselhoff, parodying himself? (Not a stretch, maybe.) Or that Gary Cole and Elizabeth Perkins show up as Fred’s parents, who get things rolling by booting him out of the house? Or that Azaria does the voice for another Easter chick, dancin’ fool Phil? Or that Hefner himself does a cameo, but that Hef and Hoff  (in Hop) never meet? An unending stream of slick nonsense just keeps pooping and popping out of Hop, a movie that misfires about as often as Elmer Fudd’s wifle.

The actors are pretty well done in by their lines, so it’s hard to blame them. Working with material like this must be like Henny Youngman trying to wring yocks out of a recipe for boiled turnips. Azaria, just barely, manages to poke his head above the comedy rubble both as Carlos and also as dancing’ Phil.

Recently, it’s seemed that Hollywood’s big feature cartoons, Pixar’s and all the rest, have been almost the only big studio movies to have solid, intelligent, clever, fit-for-adults scripts. Here’s the exception that, we hope, proves the rule: a certifiably lousy screenplay by two writers (Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio) who, just last year, had their names on a certifiably good one: Despicable Me. Was it them?

Their new director, Tim Hill, honed his skills not only writing for “Spongebob Squarepants” and directing the Muppets (good) but directing Alvin and the Chipmunks and Garfield movies (not so good). Was it him?

The movie, even if it cleans up for a while (lots of elementary schoolers with disposable parents and teens-to-twenties  with time on their hands) is just befuddlingly bad. It’s empty of wit or magic or even common ordinary cornball humor. Even though it’s set in Hollywood in the worlds of TV, show biz and rock n’ roll, Hop doesn’t even bother to get itself much of a good, snappy extended pop score, which might have redeemed the entire movie. As it is, one of the highlights is a recording session with E.B. and The Blind Boys of Alabama, which, however, the film keeps butting into.

If you’re going to make a movie about the music world, why not have more music? But then again, if you’re going to make a comedy about the Easter Bunny, why not have a few laughs? Or a few more bunnies? Or a few good bunny jokes for Hef and the Hoff? Hop. Flop.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.


awesome stuff. OK I would like to contribute as well by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to modify. check it out at All custom premade files, many of them totally free to get. Also, check out Dow on: Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more ...

cool post. OK I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to customize. check it out at All custom templates, many of them dirt cheap or free to get. Also, check out Downlo on: Wilmington on Movies: I'm Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

awesome post. Now I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some beautiful and easy to modify. take a look at All custom premade files, many of them free to get. Also, check out DownloadSoho.c on: MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

Andrew Coyle on: Wilmington On Movies: Paterson

tamzap on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Magnificent Seven, Date Night, Little Women, Chicago and more …

rdecker5 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Ivan's Childhood

Ray Pride on: Wilmington on Movies: The Purge: Election Year

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon