Getting a babysitter is never easy. So when I saw posters for Jonah Hill's new movie The Sitter--just his derelict mug shot and the tagline "Need a sitter?"--I thought, Why not? I called to ask if he'd watch my 2-year-old son Laszlo for a couple of hours on a Sunday while my wife and I got brunch. He's our first babysitter to show up in a Lincoln Town Car with a driver.
We had already told Laszlo a lot about Jonah, who's 27 and best known for his foulmouthed cocky-nerd roles in the Judd Apatow movies Knocked Up, Funny People and Superbad. When I showed him a video of Jonah and his Moneyball co-star Brad Pitt, Laszlo said, unprompted, that he preferred Jonah. He loved it that Jonah co-created and does the voice of the main character in the new animated Fox sitcom Allen Gregory, about a spoiled kid whose parents lose their money. But Laszlo was most impressed that Jonah knew Elmo, from a Sesame Street segment they worked on together.
Before we left for brunch, I gave Jonah my cell-phone number, taught him how to jab the EpiPen into Laszlo's thigh if he ate a nut and showed him where we keep the diapers. Only the diapers freaked him out. He tried to persuade Laszlo to hold it for a couple of hours.
As a responsible parent, I put nanny cams all over the house and audio-recorded Jonah's babysitting. Against all expectations and comedic hopes, Jonah is really good with kids: for the first time ever, Laszlo didn't cry when we left the house. Jonah read Truck Duck and The Cat in the Hat to Laszlo, sang the alphabet song, taught him how to make fart noises and played with his train set. Whenever Laszlo showed him something, Jonah said, "That's cool!" He put in a lot of effort for someone who, as he told Laszlo, was really hungover.
Because talking with kids involves a lot of discussion about favorite things, Jonah revealed his favorite movie (Goodfellas), food (sushi), animal (otter), color (green) and number (5). It turns out that a 2-year-old is an amazing interviewer, since he just keeps asking "Why?"
"What do you like to watch on TV?" Jonah asked.
"Nothing," Laszlo said.
"That's good. I watch too much TV. I watch Real Housewives of Atlanta."
"Because I'm stupid."
Jonah tried to get deep with Laszlo after seeing some impressionistic marker drawings over Laszlo's bed, signed by Esme. But Laszlo wouldn't talk. "I'm kind of getting a girlfriend vibe off this Esme," Jonah said, "but you're not, like, being open about it, so I can't really figure out the deal between you two. Feel me? Laszlo, who's Esme? Dish, girlfriend!"
About a half-hour in, Laszlo told Jonah he was hungry, so they looked through the refrigerator. Though Jonah has lost more than 40 lb. by consuming only vegetables, lean protein and beer, he's not the best nutritionist. "You want salmon?" he asked my son. "That's adult food, I feel like. How about a Popsicle? Am I going to get in trouble for giving you a Popsicle? Who cares? I'm in charge." This was at 10:30 a.m.
They went downstairs, and Jonah started to read Knuffle Bunny to Laszlo. "Oh, wait," Jonah said. "The Popsicle--if it melts, I'll get in trouble."
"It will get all dirty. Can we read this upstairs?"