Director David Gordon Green first emerged on the scene with his award-winning and highly acclaimed story about an interracial group of kids, George Washington. Since then he's covered indie territory (All The Real Girls, Snow Angels), TV (Eastbound and Down, starring schoolmate Danny McBride), and stoner-buddy flicks (Pineapple Express, Your Highness). This time around, he shepherds the mayhem surrounding Jonah Hill, as perhaps the world's worst babysitter, in The Sitter, opening this weekend. Green chatted about the right recipe for raunchiness by phone from his home in Austin, Texas:
So The Sitter looks like every parents' nightmare. Do you think parents will want to see it?
Green: "I hope so. It's a very relatable scenario of comedic chaos. We've all been on one side of the triangle: the parents, the kids with the obnoxious babysitter, the sitter with the horrible kids-"
This sounds a bit like 1987's Adventures in Babysitting, but with more drugs and swearing. What would Elisabeth Shue say?
"I have chatted to her, I'm a big fan of her. I wanted to include her on where we were coming from- to have a movie in the spirit of those great '80s, John Hughes movies."
Did you babysit? "I was a babysitter when I was younger- I have three sisters, and they were professional babysitters. I can't say I was that entertaining but I was pretty good. I made a killing as a kid."
You've worked with child actors a few times now, and I know it can be a challenge. How much say do you have in the casting process?
"I have entire say. I can't make movies unless I have a cast we really believe in.
On my first film, it was an eye-opening experience as to why actors who were of note and had great resumés, were not necessarily as interesting. You don't have to have marquee value, just a fresh face and voice. And kids don't bring the baggage: they don't have the fixing the hair attitude and bullshit.- I just want to find kids I want to hang out with."
A generation ago guys were pretty much men once they left school. Now we've got doughy 30-somethings who still live with their mom and watch cartoons. (No disrespect to your new MTV animated series, Good Vibes.) Tell me about our cultural fascination with men who refuse to grow up.
"Well, certainly we could talk about the evolution of masculinity if we weren't here to promote what will hopefully be a hit Hollywood comedy.- It all comes from a lack of cause and meaning, I guess. We poke fun at those guys, and hopefully they can recognize it and laugh at themselves."
Tell me about the pressure you felt after George Washington was so critically well received. Was it a blessing, a curse, or both?
"I made four movies that nobody saw. The critics were very kind and receptive, and that subculture of true film explorers saw it, but there was no pressure because nobody was looking at me. It increased my appetite for things people might see sometime."
It's a gift to be able to make a touching stoner movie like Pineapple Express. Is there a specific recipe for that mix of raunchiness and heart: like no more than three masturbation jokes, mixed with equal parts tears, or-
"There's got to be more than three, that's how I get started! It's about casting, people you believe in. That's the gift of working with an actor like Jonah Hill, who turns a pretty despicable character like Noah into a guy you can fall in love with by the end of the movie. It's not like the days of Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant: people just don't buy the great posture and winning smile anymore."