Sunday, December 3, 2017

Netflix tip: McG's THE BABYSITTER mashes genres for a funny, gory, sweet 'n nasty treat

Looking for a guilty pleasure that will really pleasure you -- in a number of ways -- if you don't mind an unusual mix of sweet-family-feel-good, blood-guts-and-gore, a very young coming-of-age tale, devil worship and murder, all wrapped in one of the most rambunctious, well-paced, pull-out-all-the-stops tales in quite some time? Then THE BABYSITTER, a new film from McG that's available now via Netflix streaming, may be just your cup of tea. The filmmaker (shown below) has had a rather spotty, up-and-down record over the years -- from Charlie's Angels to We Are MarshallTerminator Salvation and Three Days to Kill -- but this new film is one of his most throwaway yet simultaneously his most oddly delightful ventures.

The mix-and-mash of genres here works surprisingly but wonderfully, beginning with McG's choice of leading boy: the terrific Judah Lewis, who gets a role in which he is allowed to do practically everything and does it all to a fare-thee-well. He handles fear and smarts and action and attraction and so much more with such believability and aplomb that he'll win you over in a flash and keep you with him all the way.

As written by Brian Duffield, who clearly has a good understanding of each of the genres he uses and abuses, the movie begins as a bullied young adolescent tale before morphing into a kind of Home Alone (with murdering satanists), and then into -- well, just hang on for the very wild ride.

Young Master Lewis (above, left) plays Cole, and his co-star is that gorgeous and clearly pretty talented Australian actress Samara Weaving (above, right, whom you can also see currently as the co-star of Mayhem and in the juicy little role of the ex-husband's current squeeze in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri).

Ms Weaving begins the film as that titular movie icon: the beautiful, kind, helpful babysitter you can turn to for just about everything. And then the nastiness and gore begins. How all this goes down -- helped along marvelously by McG's and Duffield's sense of humor -- is full of both the expected and the un-, and the pacing is so on the mark that the film's energy, as well as our attention, never flag. There is always something funny or gory or ridiculous (but clever) around the next corner.

The supporting cast is quite well-chosen, too, with every role (and actor in it) a kind of stand-out of sorts. That's Andrew Bachelor under all the blood, two photos up, and Bella Thorne (above, left) and Robbie Amell (above, right). Mr. Amell, with his to-die-for torso, has the movie's best line said about him by young Cole: "Why does he have his shirt off?" Cole asks this question more than once, and while it never gets answered, it manages, in wonderfully ironic fashion, to speak volumes about everything from sex in slasher movies to the gay gaze, the male "fitness" imperative, the Adonis/ Narcissus complex, and the need to undress, come hell or high water.

The movie's second best line -- an on-the-mark humdinger -- is spoken by the cute little girl (Emily Alyn Lind, above, right) who lives across the street and to whom our Cole is attracted. That line should rightly remind males about rational thinking and making intelligent judgments despite a current individual event or disappointment.

All this melds together with such bizarre finesse that The Babysitter takes its place as one of this year's best guilty pleasures. If you're of a mind for this sort of thing, add the movie to your Netflix list now. (I don't think the film is currently available anywhere else.)

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