It’ll come as a surprise to no one that, according to David Gordon Green’s latest, Jonah Hill isn’t the first person you should entrust with your children.
But, like just about everything in this would-be raucous tale of bad childcare, his character, Noah, is so half-heartedly conceived that even this basic comedy premise doesn’t hold up.
When Noah makes the decision to take the kids along on his drugs mission – somehow missing the blinding inevitability of how wrong this is bound to go – things swiftly descend into a night of mayhem involving arrest, erupting bathrooms, angry drug dealers, and a gun-toting, ’splosionpacked dénouement that makes Pineapple Express ’ third act look positively restrained.
First roped into babysitting three variously unbalanced kids by his mother, then roped into delivering drugs to a party by his overbearing girlfriend, Noah spends much of the film blinking bemusedly at the unfolding chaos around him.
It’s fortunate that Hill gives good bemused, his deadpan reactions offsetting the onslaught of lacklustre slapstick and set-pieces.
There’s some good value to be had from the tykes – celeb-obsessed daughter Blithe’s (Landry Bender) take on the Bible is a scarce laugh-out-loud moment, while anxious eldest son Slater’s (Max Records) heart-to-heart is almost poignant.
Sadly, a raunchy opening sets up an entirely different film to the one that follows, and by the borderline-saccharine conclusion you’ll almost be longing for another BJ gag.
A certain unpolished charm is a trademark of Green’s work, but this is fuzzy to the point of distraction.