The film is a Michael De Luca Productions and 20th Century Fox joint venture, distributed by 20th Century Fox. The film was originally scheduled to be released in theaters on August 5, 2011, but was pushed back to December 9, 2011. It received generally negative reviews from critics and grossed $34 million against its $25 million budget.
The movie opens with Noah Griffith (Jonah Hill) giving oral sex to his sex buddy Marisa (Ari Graynor). Noah is a suspended college student who lives with his divorced mother and also can't even keep a job.
One day when Noah is returning home from his girlfriend's house, his mother is about to leave to a party with a friend of hers. His mother then receives a phone call from her friend who informs her that her children's babysitter canceled last minute. Noah then takes over as babysitter so his mother can go to the party.
When Noah arrives at the house, he meets all of the kids immediately. The oldest son Slater (Max Records) is a kid with a severe anxiety disorder, their second oldest son Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez) is a pyromaniac who was adopted from El Salvador. The youngest child is their daughter Blithe (Landry Bender) who is obsessed with pop culture and loves to wear makeup. As soon as the Pedulas leave, the children start to act obnoxious (smashing vases, making fart noises, and attempting to grab the TV remote from Noah).
While in the middle of babysitting, Marisa calls Noah and she asks him to bring cocaine for a party that she's at, saying that she'll repay him with sex afterwards. Noah immediately accepts, and he and the children leave to go get the drugs from Marisa's friend. When they finally arrive, Noah meets drug dealer Karl (Sam Rockwell) and his assistant Julio (JB Smoove). As soon as Karl gives the drugs to Noah, Rodrigo bursts in claiming that he has to go to the bathroom. When Noah leaves, he sees that Rodrigo has stolen a baby dinosaur egg filled with cocaine from Karl's house. While attempting to get the egg back from Rodrigo, the egg smashes pouring cocaine all over Noah's face.
Karl then calls Noah about the stolen eggs, and tells him that if he doesn't bring the egg back or the $10,000 he owes for the egg, he will kill him.
Not wanting to be a part of this, Slater asks Noah to take the three of them to the party where their parents are. When Noah sees his mother actually having a good time at the party he can't bring himself to interfere and decides to bring the kids with him. Slater then tells Noah that a bunch of girls are texting him asking him to attend a bat mitzvah for Wendy Sapperstein (a girl that goes to his school). He tells Noah that the bat mitzvah is being held at the Grand Prospect Hall. Noah then comes up with the idea that they can steal the money Wendy gets.
At the bat mitzvah, Noah manages to only steal $3,000 because he had to leave due to Rodrigo urinating on the floor. When they leave, they find out that Tina (Samira Wiley), who went to high school with Noah, has stolen the car to get revenge on Noah who went to a party at her house, and threw up on her grandmother's ashes due to him being drunk. Noah gives the $3,000 to Karl and also brings $7,000 worth of checks. Karl refuses the checks and gives Noah one more chance at getting the $7,000. He tells Noah to meet him at the party Marisa is at with the money and if he doesn't, he will kill him.
Noah then goes to his dad (Bruce Altman) for help, but he refuses because he now hates Noah due to him dropping out of college and just being a loser in general. An angry Noah steals his father's car keys and drives to a jewelry store his dad owns. Noah then steals enough jewelry to pay back Karl, but then Rodrigo blows the store up after placing a cherry bomb in the bathroom. Rodrigo then throws a temper tantrum, and then throws Slater's fanny pack containing pills out the window. Noah stops the car so Slater can get the pills. Noah tells Slater that he's not going to find them, and it is then revealed that Slater is homosexual, and the pills were the only thing that kept him "normal." Noah then makes Slater accept the fact that he's gay, and that there is nothing wrong with it.
The group then sees their original car drive by them, and they track it down to a club where Noah confronts Tina about stealing the car. Tina finally let's go of her anger towards Noah by punching him in the face. After Noah leaves, they go head out to get the money to Karl but Noah gets pulled over by the police who steal the jewelry and the cocaine that Karl originally gave him. Noah's only plan now is to get Marisa out of the party and escape Karl, but Karl's gang tracks him down and attempts to kill Noah and the kids, but Noah manages to get away. Then Noah engages in a car chase with Karl and Julio. They make Karl's car crash by Rodrigo throwing a cherry bomb in their van, but this causes Noah to spin out, and Karl holds him at gunpoint.
Noah manages to run away and Karl uses up all his ammo wasting it on shooting at Noah. Then, Blithe calls Tina's gang, and they beat Karl up so they can escape.
Before Noah drops Marisa off at her house, the two break up. Noah then manages to get the kids home on time, and they see that everything that went on that night is on the news. Mr. and Mrs. Pedula finally arrive home, and they pay Noah for the night.
During the end credits, we find out what happens to all the main characters: Noah got a new girlfriend; Slater grew up and got a job at the entertainment industry; Blithe gave up her pop culture obsession, and started inventing perfumes as an adult; Rodrigo gave up being a pyromaniac; Karl was hospitalized after being beat up by Tina's gang; and Julio died due to him burning to death.
The Sitter grossed $30.4 million in the United States and Canada and $4.5 million in other territories for a total gross of $34.9 million, against a production budget of $25 million.
The film made $9.9 million in its opening weekend, finishing second at the box office behind New Year's Eve ($13 million).
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 21% based on 108 reviews, with an average rating of 4.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "With its recycled plot, misguided gags, and formula performance from Jonah Hill, The Sitter adds up to another disappointing entry from director David Gordon Green." On Metacritic the film has a score of 39 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.
Empire Magazine awarded it a score of two out of five stars, saying " It never really gels except for a few spots here and there." The Guardian awarded it one out of five stars, saying "Very light on gags, and then, with an awful inevitability, very heavy on the sentimental life-lessons getting learnt by Noah and his adorable young charges. Avoid." Roger Ebert awarded it one out of four stars, saying "I don't blame Green for working in the genre. But I blame him for making a bad movie that isn't funny." The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a more mixed review, saying "The fusion works far better than Green's sword-and-sandal-and-stoners dud Your Highness, but is unlikely to connect with audiences like his previous '80s riff Pineapple Express."
The Sitter was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 20, 2012.