Movie Review: The Sitter and Young Adult

Poptional Reading reviews two late-2011 releases: The Sitter, starring Jonah Hill, and Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron. Can you guess which one was filmed in Westchester County?



There were two movies in theaters this weekend that I want to talk about: The Sitter and Young Adult.

The Sitter is an Adventures in Babysitting-style comedy where the titular character, played by Jonah Hill, starts off in suburban surroundings. He’s charged with taking care of three overprivileged, overindulged children. He supervises them in their giant, perfectly decorated home, but, upon receiving a call from a girl at a party in Brooklyn, he herds them into their parent’s minivan — complete with New York license plate and one of those little stickers that show you how big the family is — and takes them for R-rated adventures in the gritty city.

young adult movie
Young Adult photograph by Phillip V. Caruso

Young Adult introduces Mavis, a YA author played by Charlize Theron living in an apartment in Minneapolis. She decides she wants to return to her small Minnesota hometown of Mercury (not a real place) to reconnect with her high school sweetheart. So she packs a designer suitcase, drives over one of the city’s many bridges, and takes off for home. When she gets there, she’s almost disgusted by how unglamorous it is: the bars are seedy or cheesy, the houses are modest, and everything feels just so small-time.

Based on these descriptions: Which one of these movies do you think was filmed in our area?

I thought it’d be The Sitter. The license plate, I figured, was a dead giveaway that they were living in a Westchester suburb and not Connecticut. I spent all of the suburban scenes looking for clues as to the exact locations. Did that look like a Rye McMansion? They were driving on I-87 — would that put them closer to a river town?

Nope. Turns out, most of The Sitter was filmed in Brooklyn. I don’t know where the suburban scenes were shot, but I can’t find any evidence that it was in Westchester. It could be California for all we know.

Meanwhile, when I watched Young Adult, I didn’t think about Westchester at all. It just looked so... Midwestern. Amd then, when the credits rolled, I saw the special thanks: The City of White Plains, the Town of Greenburgh, and so on. Mercury was really Westchester! (Anyone have any run-ins with Charlize Theron or Patton Oswalt lately?) All they had to do was throw in some establishing shots of Minneapolis architecture, and I was fooled. As someone who prides herself on her ability to pick out Westchester locations on a moment’s notice, I felt stung.

Just goes to show that, even when you think you know a place like the back of your hand, all it takes is someone with a vision to come along and surprise you.

Anyone see either of these films? What’d you think? Let me know in the comments box below.

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Marisa LaScala

Marisa LaScala
Elmsford, NY


Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at www.popmatters.com, where she is a staff writer.

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