Satire on the big screen can come in all shapes and sizes. Timely satire is especially something that can land in a big way. So, skewering toxic masculinity is quite fertile ground for a comedy in 2022. Unfortunately, Babysitter is attempting to do these things while mixing in a manic sensibility and bits of magical realism. It’s always weird, occasionally funny, and largely a bore. That makes it the first Sundance Film Festival title that I did not care for at all. Your mileage may vary, but this movie did absolutely nothing for me. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.
Babysitter has sporadically entertaining bits, but it’s also tonally all over the place and a slog. There’s too many different elements at play here, never coming together in the slightest. Festivals always play arty comedies of this ilk and they tend to never go anywhere. I expect that to once again be the case here.
When Cedric (Patrick Hivon) and his buddy (Hubert Proulx) attend an MMA match, they’re expecting a harmless bit of drunken fun. The former is a new father eager to have a night out, while the latter is eager to ogle some women. Then, leaving the event, they spot a local news reporter doing a live spot. Cedric is just drunk enough to run up and kiss her, making a fool of himself and horrifying her in the process. They initially think nothing of it, but when he gets home, his exhausted wife Nadine (Monia Chokri) has already seen it on social media. In short order, a scandal emerges, with Cedric suspended from work. His journalist brother Jean-Michel (Steve Laplante) has even penned an article vilifying him. Basically, his life is crumbling.
Jean-Michel encourages Cedric to write and apology, which he takes too far and begins a misguided book on toxic masculinity. It even ropes his sibling in. As the brothers write, Nadine is at her wit’s end. Cedric’s idea? Bring in a babysitter to watch their daughter while he puts pen to paper. Of course, when Amy (Nadia Tereszkiewicz) arrives on the scene, she upends life for all involved.
The cast is game to tackle this material, even if the material doesn’t give them enough to do. Patrick Hivon is fine, as are Monia Chokri, Steve Laplante, Hubert Proulx, and Nadia Tereszkiewicz. They’re just hamstrung by the screenplay. So, while they alternate between going big and going small, you just shrug your shoulders most of the time. That might be one of the bigger shames of Babysitter, not giving these actors and actresses more to play with.
Monia Chokri also directs, with the script coming from Catherine Léger. You can tell what they’re going for here, but it all feels too forced to work. Chokri and Léger hit some funny points about toxic masculinity, but the way it mixes with fantasy and magical realism is a big miss. They’re undoubtedly swinging for the fences, but in doing so, it’s a swing and a miss.
Babysitter has some amusing moments, but it’s ultimately not enough. You won’t have any trouble appreciating what the filmmakers are getting at. The thing is, it’s presented in such a scattershot way that you just won’t care. As far as Sundance movies go this year, Babysitter is sadly one of the most disappointing.