Adventures in Babysitting Reviews
"Chris: Don't worry. We'll get home. This has all just been a big mistake.
Sarah: What about Brenda?
Brad: That was her parents' mistake."
Actually, that's a lie. Nothing escapes the eye of pop culture, which is why we all know who The Lone Ranger is despite his being a persona non grata for the last forty-odd years (And we do know who The Lone Ranger is, right kids?).
And that's probably also the reason why you remember Adventures In Babysitting (AIB). Perhaps fuzzily, perhaps warmly, perhaps even fondly. Or maybe you saw it last week and hated it, I don't know.
But I'm here to tell you that AIB is one well-oiled machine of a movie. And when I say machine I'm not talking about a heartless, soulless abomination like a Terminator or a Michael Bay movie. What I mean is that AIB meticulously crafted, well cast, and a perfectly paced thrill ride of a movie.
Once our principal cast is introduced, the film simply does not let up, providing laughs and shocks in equal number and pausing only briefly to let us (and the actors) take a breath before moving along to whatever calamity in next in line for our youthful heroes.
And I'd be hard-pressed to think of a more ingenious and flat-out fun MacGuffin than the copy of Playboy that keeps the mafioso baddies hot on our heroes' trail and provides many opportunities for babysitter Shue (bringing an 'A' game from the opening credits to the very end) to be compared to the centerfold.
The cinematography is slick, whether depicting a smoky nightclub or a swanky cocktail party, thanks to DoP Ric Waite. Everything's cut together well, the geography of each scene is clear and easily understood. Watching this, it's easy to see how director Columbus landed the directing gigs on the first two Harry Potter movies: He makes everything so simple to follow that even a child can understand what's going on, even if they don't understand the gags that are aimed more at the parents who've been dragged to the theater.
My only substantial complaint is that Columbus is quite obviously a protege of John Hughes, and some scenes and choices are just too blatantly derived from his films. The aforementioned nightclub scene is a setup right our of Weird Science (tho it plays out much differently), and the mad dash to beat the parents home is a straight-up copy of the climax of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Columbus' choice and placement of pop songs is a little too reminiscent of Hughes as well. But it was his first movie, so maybe I should cut him a little slack.
All in all, AIB is a phenomenal kids' adventure film-well put-together, well acted, and hey, it's got freakin' Thor in it. Not even The Goonies can make that claim. 4/5 Stars.
Not only that, this movie always seemed like a bit of an oddity to me. Its most definitely a classic 80's movie yet somehow...I always felt like it should of had a more classic cast. Its the strangest thing, every time I think about this movie I keep putting other classic actors of the era in it, knowing full well they weren't in it. I guess what I'm saying is this movie really needed some A-list talent in it. The movie really does yearn for a standout comedic performance to add some punch, the best bet being the villains ('Home Alone' being a good example). To me this always felt like a huge missed opportunity.
The other main issue I had with this movie is the plot. Basically Chris Parker (Elizabeth Shue) has taken on a babysitting gig after her boyfriend blows her off. Her job for the evening now is to look after teenager Brad (Keith Coogan), 8 year old Sara (Maia Brewton) and next door neighbour Daryl who gate crashes the situation. Now the entire backbone of the story hinges on one thing, Chris Parker's friend Brenda running away from home and getting stuck at the city bus station. Brenda uses up all her money to run away to the bus station, changes her mind and wants Chris to come pick her up. To me this was always really weak and really annoying too, I'd be like...not my problem, ring your parents. So Chris feels obliged to help her idiotic friend, but to make matters worse the kids blackmail her into taking them along, cue the nightmare.
The movie moves from one set piece to another introducing more and more problems for Chris as her night becomes more and more convoluted. The whole scenario is one long chain reaction of events intertwined. Its also one of those scenarios in a film where you sit there, at times feeling uncomfortable because you just know the characters shouldn't be doing this that or the other. You find yourself saying things out loud because you know what's gonna happen. One of the first major setbacks for Chris and co is when their car gets a flat and after a string of events they end up losing it. This is something that I found to be a constant worry while watching the kids get deeper and deeper. Will they find the car? Where is the car? Is it in one piece? Obviously you know everything will be OK; but you know the movie is working when you're thinking about it.
Of course everything that does happen is pretty cliched, kids being trapped in the city (Chicago) at night you know what to expect. Nothing horrendous obviously as the movie was for kids but the usual stereotypical 80's stuff. Lots of bums, hookers, weirdos, criminals that are generally black or mafia-like, some classic 80's street gangs in some attire to die for, and of course frat boys. Because what 80's flick is complete without frat boys, required or not. But the main crux surrounds the kids being continuously chased by some criminals because they accidentally picked up a [i]Playboy[/i] magazine with some important criminal details written inside.
Chris and co manage to stumble into a jazz club where they are forced to sing the blues. This whole sequence was certainly silly and embarrassing that's for sure. I know this is a movie but who would have time for a sing song in this situation?? But this sequence did also remind me very much of 'The Blues Brothers' especially with Albert Collins on show. Later on in the movie the kids wind up at a frat boy party (because...80's) where we see the usual beer chugging tomfoolery along with high school sluts. But we also see another musical cameo from Southside Johnny Lyon which again gave me those Blues Brothers vibes. The soundtrack for the movie is very good overall, some nice soul and blues going down.
As the adventure progresses the kids meet up with various folk who either help them or don't quite simply. All the while annoying Brenda is having a nervous breakdown in the bus station over not very much really. The whole deal with Brenda felt really out of place, just too stupid. I understand she's a teen but Jesus Christ get a fucking grip girl! Gotta say, Maia Brewton who plays little Sara was annoying too with her Thor obsession (yes Thor). This all plays into the sequence where the kids meet up with Dawson (Vincent D'Onofrio), the mechanic who has their car towards the end. This guy has long blonde hair (a terrible wig on D'Onofrio) and carries a sledgehammer that looks like Thor's hammer, so Sara thinks its Thor (ugh!). They owe Dawson $50 for a tyre (only 50! how times have changed), but only have 45, so Dawson refuses. But then little Sara offers him her kids Thor helmet (cos she's dressed as Thor the entire movie), and Dawson suddenly changes his mind, just like that. Deus ex machina Thor helmet moment.
Hell in the finale the kids end up at the top of a skyscraper and Sara flippin' climbs out of the window and shimmies down the glass onto a ledge! She's being chased by one of the bad guys yes but my God! Its at this point I started to question director Chris Columbus's motives. Clearly he did this just to raise the stakes, make things more thrilling, but its essentially really stupid because no kid would do that. Also the carjacker that initially helps the kids, knocks out his criminal boss to help them finally escape. But what happens to him? Does he wind up getting whacked for punching his boss? Or does he give up his life of crime and start over? Who knows.
Naturally everything works out in the end with a Ferris Bueller-esque finish that is reasonably enjoyable. Even though I was engaged in the unfolding events I was never worried about things not working out, obviously. Even though (as I've said) this is a classic 80's flick, in all honesty there are better ones out there in my humble little opinion. This movie is fun but lacks some real talent of the time. There are so many characters that could have easily been cameos for big name comedians of the era. The movie tries to be funny, witty and at times edgy but it tends to fall a bit flat. The music is a highlight as are the glorious retro inner city visuals; but the main characters are kinda irritating and can't hold a candle to other 80's movie casts. In the end its still hard to believe that this entire chain of events happened simply because of one ditzy girlfriend and her own foolishness.
Chris is babysitting a young man that has a crush on her, his little sister who pretends to be Thor, and the boy's best friend. Unfortunately, her friend is lost in the city with no glasses. She loads the kids in the car and heads into the big city in hopes of rescuing her friend before anything tragic happens to her.
"You wouldn't believe what that girl would do for twenty bucks."
Chris Columbus, director of Home Alone 1 & 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, Step Mom, Nine Months, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Rent, Pixels, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Lightening Thief, delivers Adventures in Babysitting. The storyline for this picture is fun in a 'Don't tell Mom the Babysitter is Dead' kind of way. There is a lot of cheese in here, but the 80s feel is fun to watch unfold.
"You slip me the cash and I'll slip you the weiner."
I found this on HBOGO not too long ago and decided to give it a viewing for the first time in a long time. I still thoroughly enjoyed it, but it is a very average film that has badly aged. I do think this is a must see, but isn't worth adding to the collection.
"Take back what you said about Thor!"