Right up there with mandatory piano lessons, Brussels sprouts, and little league baseball on the list of signs your parents really never loved you is the babysitter. Why else would they allow someone with a completely vacant social agenda and a painfully low “what I will and won’t do for money” threshold to be in charge of your welfare? And it doesn’t get any better in the movies. In The Sitter, out on DVD this week, Jonah Hill adds his name to the legion of nutballs who should never, ever be allowed near children. He’s got a proud tradition to uphold…
Adventures in Babysitting
Sitter: Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue)
By all accounts, Parker is a fine babysitter. But all it takes is one night, one friend in need, and a whole lot of bad decisions--including aiding and abetting car thieves and ill-advised lip-synching--and she’s on the black list forever. Of course, it’s not like there weren’t red flags – you can’t trust any girl who’s THAT into Bradley Whitford.
Sitters: Janine Melnitz and Louis Tully (Annie Potts, Rick Moranis)
We’re pretty sure people leaving their children in the care of neurotic New Yorkers is what started the whole Hipster movement in the first place. Janine and Louis will force-feed your baby some French bread pizza until it passes out and then spend the rest of the night macking on the couch during Citizen Kane. You’re better off letting Vigo the Butch have the kid.
Sitter: Shirley Lyner (Katherine Waterston)
Shirley not only has no qualms about hooking up with her clients’ dads, she uses the hook-ups as an excuse to start a babysitting service-fronted call girl ring. Irresponsible? Absolutely. But we’d hate to see the state of the porn industry if forward-thinkers like Shirley didn’t exist. Next thing you know, pizza delivery guys, nurses, teachers, and lumberjacks would all just quietly do their jobs…
Sitter: Uncle Buck (John Candy)
The guy can make planet-sized pancakes you have to flip with a snow shovel, but does that make up for the fact that he openly threatens to kill your daughter’s boyfriend, smokes like a chimney, and drives a car that’s apparently powered by charcoal and cancer? Buck is a lovable lunatic, but let’s not overlook the lunatic part, mmmmkay?
Sitter: Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams)
This is a classic situation - like meeting an alien, fighting off a ghost, or talking to Christopher Walken - that’s portrayed as cute and charming in the movies but would psychologically scar real-world children for life. If your dad dressed in matronly drag to make you breakfast, you’d never stop wetting the bed and cutting.
Sitter: Robin Harris (Faizon Love)
It’s hard to fault the frustrated Harris entirely, but c’mon. Trying to mix babysitting and dating can only result in total disaster...or a visit from Chris Hansen. But even after managing to survive the complete immolation of Fun World, what is Harris’ babysitting sequel plan? Take the brood to Las Vegas. This isn’t child care, this is a really elaborate suicide attempt.
Sitter: Shane Wolfe (Vin Diesel)
What happens when one of the kids’ girl scout troupe gets bullied? Rather than calming the situation, Wolfe teaches them how to fight. When one of the kids needs driving lessons? He teaches them how to engage in car chases with villainous Korean neighbors. And yet, none of these things are truly as irresponsible as the former Navy SEAL’s ultimate crime against babysitting: Stealing your plot entirely from the Hulk Hogan vehicle Mr. Nanny.
Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead
Sitter: Mrs. Sturak (Eda Reiss Merin)
Shuffling off on the midnight train to the Big Adios is the surest way to send kids down a path towards self-reliance, confidence, and general “can-do” competence and THAT CAN’T HAPPEN! (EDITOR’S NOTE FOR COMMENT TROLLS: We opted for a photo of the lovely Christina Applegate instead of the craggily Merin. We stand by our decision.)
Sitters: Alan, Phil, and Stu (Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms)
Being left in the closet of a hotel room filled with tigers, chickens, and airborne chlamydia is a hundred times more preferable than being Baby Bjorn’d to the chest of manchild Alan while Stu and Phil evade Asian gangsters. But, to be fair, Alan pretending to make the kid masturbate is kinda funny. <snicker> Cut it out, Alan. Seriously. <snicker> The Hangover 2 is now available on Blu-ray.
The Royal Tenenbaums
Sitter:Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman)
“I’m talking about taking it out and chopping it up.” Shoplifting, water balloon mischief, gambling, and property damage are things children learn when there’s no one around to take care of them. You don’t expect the caregiver to be doling out these life lessons, as valuable as they are.
Sitter: Jack Butler (Michael Keaton)
Did you expect anything but wild incompetence from a guy who can’t navigate a supermarket, operate a washing machine, or change a diaper without a Hazmat suit? No wonder this hamster was almost cuckolded by Martin Mull. (“Yeah, 220, 221. Whatever it takes.”)