Tonight on a very special episode of The Very Special Blog, I provide you with more in depth analysis than you ever wanted on the 1987 tour-de-force, Adventures in Babysitting…
I was talking to my BFF Anne about how I haven’t watched any of the Pitch Perfect movies because I was afraid that they would give me a very specific type of FOMO. I call it the “I want to be up there and randomly signing with my friends! FOMO” though this can also happen with things involving choreographed dances. Suffice it to say, I have a really odd mixture of FOMO and adoration every time I watch Teen Witch.
Adventures in Babysitting also gives me a little FOMO and I think that’s somehow got a lot to do with this opening scene:
This all starts off with Chris (national treasure, Elisabeth Shue) prepping for a big date. Her boyfriend cancels on her at the very last minute, telling her that he has to babysit his kid sister and she’s “contagious” so Chris cannot come over and help. Chris’s best friend, Brenda, calls bullshit on the situation. But Chris won’t hear it. And with no plans for the evening, she goes to babysit for the Andersons.
So we head over to the Anderson home to meet the kids. But one of the kids, Brad, is like 15 years old and I can’t understand for the life of me why he’s not babysitting his little sister. In the opening sequence, we established that this is the kind of movie in which older male children babysit their younger female siblings. So like does one have to be 18 to babysit a younger sibling? Cause I’m pretty sure a 15 year old can make sure that an 8 year old doesn’t burn down the house. If this is not the case, then I think we all need to have a serious discussion about The Babysitters-Club.
The little girl, Sara, is obsessed with Thor, so obviously she’s cool and probably my favorite character in this movie. She’s also got a backpack featuring Gizmo from Gremlins.
Now, there are some obvious problems with this script. The most glaring of which I find to be an extended exchange between the Anderson children, in which Brad tells Sara that Thor is a “total homo” and Sara repeatedly tries to make him “take-it back.” My first thought is of my friend’s fiancee, who as a closeted person in 1987 went alone to the movie theater to see Adventures in Babysitting. Obviously, he already had to go to see this movie on the DL since it isn’t the most “manly” movie to attend and I imagine it must have felt pretty shitty to see a light-comedy shit on your sexual orientation within the first ten minutes. Plus Anthony Rapp, from Rent, shows up a little later on in the film in a major supporting role as Brad’s friend Darryl. I felt like homophobic lines in the script must have been tough for him as well, and actually he commented on it in his Reddit AMA, which you can check out here. He basically says that he feels that it was true to the time and would not exist in a script today. I don’t feel like I would be so zen about it if it were me but to each his own.
Shortly into her baby-sitting job, Chris gets a call from Brenda–who has run away from home. She’s calling from the bus station in downtown Chicago and she’s distraught. In what must be the most poorly thought-out plan ever, Brenda has spent all of her money on the cab to the bus station and thus has no money to purchase a ticket. She can’t leave kids at home because they threaten to rat her out, so she takes them with her to Chicago.
While on the expressway, they have a tire blowout. First of all, mad props to Chris for safely navigating a station wagon full of children to the side of the interstate without full tire traction. Secondly, she’s forgotten her wallet and they have no money to pay for a tow. They’re all creeped out when a tow truck driven by a man with a hook stops to pick them up. I mean I guess it IS a classic horror story trope, but like they’re really rude to this nice man who’s just trying to help them. Finally, Chris realizes she’s been an asshole. She apologizes and the man, John Pruitt, offers to tow them and by them a new tire. Everything’s good until John Pruitt gets a call on his CB radio. His lady’s been stepping out on him, her lover’s car is in front of their place, and he thinks that driving around with a bunch of random kids in his tow truck is the perfect time to seek his revenge.
John Pruitt runs into a house with a gun and starts firing shots. A man with his pants open falls backwards out of a window and onto the porch. I seriously don’t think this would pass standards for a kids movie in 2016.While John Pruitt, chases his wife’s lover out into the street, Chris et al get into the lover’s car–which by the way has been carjacked. But it’s like carjacked by THE nicest carjacker on the planet. They ask him to let them off at the next corner and he’s like not going to do it because it’s a bad neighborhood. He’s going to take them to the train station instead. And then Chris is all like “Do you promise me you won’t hurt these kids?” which is like something a little rude and insulting to some dude who just promised to take you somewhere safe and like even if he’s NOT going to do that, then why the heck are you challenging him while he literally holds your life in his hands??
Since he actually is a nice guy, he promises not to hurt any of them. And then he takes them to a chop shop. The rest of the guys there are not so nice, so the kids all sneak out through the rafters of the building, lest the be murdered. But Darryl swipes a Playboy from the chop shop. If not for this, I honestly think the chop shop guys might have just let them get away. Instead they chase them through some back alleys and into a night club. Chris and the kids run on stage in the middle of blues set in order to avoid their would be assassins. So then the band makes Chris sing. It’s really awkward. Like really awkward.
After leaving the nightclub, Chris spots Mr. Anderson’s office building, where the kids parents are currently at a function. She thinks they should give themselves up, but then she sees Darryl talking to a child prostitute and remembers that she’s supposed to pick up Brenda or else she may face a similar fate.
Brenda, in another idiot move, took off her glasses at the train station and is now legally blind. She mistakes a rat for a kitten and probably needs to get some rabies shots as soon as he gets back to the suburbs.
Meanwhile, the kids have evaded the chop shop guys and made it safely to the El train. But their victory is short lived because the train car they’ve picked is also the site of a rumble between to rival gangs. (Also, I fully expected there to be a rumble on a subway car in The Warriors but that straight up did not happen. Seems like a missed opportunity.) Anyway, Chris politely asks the gang members to wait to fight each other until she can get the kids off the train at the next stop and they call her a bitch. Then Brad is all like “don’t call her a bitch.” And then some dude stabs Brad in the foot with a switchblade and tells him not to “f*ck with the Lords of Hell.” Chris takes the knife out of his foot and threatens the gang member with it, saying “Don’t fuck with the babysitter.” So they hop off the train at the next stop (which just so happens to be the hospital).
At the hospital, they bump into none other than John Pruitt. He’s paid for all of the repairs to their car. (He banged it up pretty good when he hopped the curb chasing down his wife’s lover. Oh and he also accidentally shot the front windshield.) Unfortunately, this leaves him with no extra cash to pay for the flat tire and they’ll have to come up with $50 to pay the owner of the garage.
Then they pass a frat party and Darryl runs away from the group to join the festivities, which by the sounds of it involve a bad Huey Lewis cover band doing a bad cover of Soul Survivors’s “Expressway to Your Heart.” Also, Sara has to pee. So Chris is all like yeah you can use the bathroom at the frat party. Uh, okay. I mean yikes. I’d hate to see that bathroom. (Also, at the party there is a whole subplot about how Chris has been mistaken for a Playboy centerfold because she looks exactly like Miss March and yadda yadda yadda that’s all I’ll say about that.)
So while one teen boy is missing in a frat house and another teen boy waits in line for the bathroom with his little sister, Chris decides to slow dance with a fraternity brother. Cut to: Darryl and some college student who is dangerously close to committing statutory rape.
On a side note is “Gimme Shelter” the most used song ever in television/film? It even makes an appearance in this movie as Chris’s new frat bro boyfriend drives them to the garage to pick up the car. He’s also loaned them $45 but claims that’s all he can find. He is so obviously a dude with a trust fund though, so I’m skeptical that this was seriously all he could come up with.
As it turns out, the owner of the garage looks exactly like Thor. But he’s not willing to accept $45 for a $50 job and instead crushes a little girls dreams by demanding an extra $5 from her babysitter before he will release their car. (He is played by a very young Vincent Donofrio and I gotta say he’s looking fine.) Eventually he comes around much like Mean Joe from that old coke commercial. But like if the coke was actually a Thor helmet. Watch it for yourself here:
But God forbid this movie ever actually end, so we cut to the chop shop guys stalking the babysitter and crew yet again.
Also, remember that guy from the very opening scene? Yeah well Chris spots his car at the fancy French restaurant where he was supposed to take her for dinner. He’s with some other girl. Chris and her charges tell him off. He’s such a scum bucket so this is really rewarding to watch. Oh yeah and in the meantime, they’ve managed to misplace Sara–who wandered away from the restaurant to look inside a toy store window and is now scaling the side of the building in order to avoid the chop shop guys. Oh yeah and that building just so happens to be where her parents are attending a party which is the entire reason they hired a babysitter in the first place.
Miraculously, Chris and company make it home first and the parents are none the wiser. Also, Sara left a roller skate in the back seat of the frat bro’s car. So he shows up at the house just as Chris is leaving and they live happily ever after.
Oh and there’s a whole subplot about Brad having a schoolboy crush on Chris. I left that out even though it’s pretty heavily covered in the movie. But someone else can write a post about that.
And there is a throw away line to the parents at the end of the movie that “Brad stayed home.” I guess we can assume that he was meant to go out that night and that Chris was only hired to babysit Sara, so that does indeed lend more credibility to this setup than I originally acknowledged.
Very Special Lesson: To all the moms out there, drop your 17 year old daughter off at her babysitting assignments and under no circumstances leave her lone with your station wagon. Furthermore, having sufficient amounts of cash on hand at all times could have solved most of these problems.
Also, this soundtrack is awesome. Highly recommend it.
Lastly, has anyone seen this Disney reboot of Adventures in Babysitting? Tell me all about it in the comments.
4 thoughts on “Adventures in Babysitting”
I found out about this movie from reading about it on here, and deliberately refrained from reading your summary until I saw the movie. I watched it on Netflix, and I thought it was hilarious!
Yes, it did run for just a tad too long, but the storyline and humor make up for that. It made me wish my brother were here watching it with me (he’s in college now), because I think he would have really liked it. It reminded me of the movies we used to watch together tabs enjoy.
I’ve got the DVR set to record the remake this Tuesday night. I’ll see how well they updated the story for modern times (I can only hope they didn’t screw it up, but hey, remakes aren’t really supposed to be better than the originals anyway).
Thanks for introducing me to this movie.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I think it’s such a fun movie. It’s one that I enjoyed as a kid and can still enjoy as an adult. Please let me know what you think of the remake! I can’t bring myself to watch it, but I’m still curious!
Okay, so I just got done watching the remake.
Short review: Very great remake!
Now, I’m going to admit right out that I’m a Disney Channel fan. I watched it all the time as a teenager, and I still watch it a bit now. I used to watch “Wizards of Waverly Place,” and now I watch “Liv and Maddie” (I love sitcoms). I’ve also been a fan of many of the Disney Channel movies that have been made, particularly “Geek Charming,” “Freaky Friday” (the version that has Gaby Hoffman as Annabelle and Shelley Long as her mom), “Susie Q,” “Model Behavior,” and my my very favorite of the bunch, “Zenon – Girl of the 21st Century” (the sequels to Zenon pale in comparison, and I ignore them. The original Zenon was awesome.).
(I can’t remember if “Wish Upon a Star” was a Disney Channel movie or not. But if it was, than that’s on my list too. I’m not sure about the 1999 version of “Annie” either, but I grew up on that movie, and it’s the reason it’s my favorite musical. The most timeless feeling movie version of the musical in my opinion, and the most like the original play.)
So anyway, you can see that I’m a pretty big fan of Disney Channel, and this obviously gives me a slight bias when it comes to comparing the two versions of “Adventures in Babysitting.”
Now, I don’t like all the Disney Channel movies. Most of the newer ones have been flat-out dumb (the commercial break on “Adventures in Babysitting” showed that the next Disney Channel movie will be “The Swap,” which is yet ANOTHER body swap movie! Can’t anybody come up with an original idea?), I think after the 90s, the quality of Disney Channel movies plummeted. I don’t know, maybe the 90s were just a better time for movies (I DO have “95” in my username for a reason, and that’s because I think the year of 1995 had some of the best movies ever). However, there have still been a few Disney Channel movies in the modern era that have been pretty good (you’ll notice I put “Geek Charming” as one of my favorites, and I think that movie was released in 2010). So, as you can guess, I was anxiously wondering whether this remake would be a good movie, or a dumb one.
To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I think they did a very good job. Does it feel more like an old-school Disney Channel movie than a modern one? No. I’d have to say it was actually somewhere in-between. The old-school Disney Channel movies just have a feel to them that if they had been theatrical movies, they would be cult classics (they pretty much already are cult classics, but I mean higher rated, like on DVD and stuff). But with this movie? I don’t know, maybe it’s too close to the time it came out to tell definitively, but I’m pretty sure this won’t be as popular as the old-school movies (and remember when I said my brother probably would have liked the original? I think he would find the remake cheesy).
The thing that I really liked about this remake is that it was done the way a believe a remake of any movie SHOULD be done. It’s rare for a remake to be done the way it should be, so this movie gets bonus points for that.
Now when I say it was done the way it should have been done, here’s what I mean:
1. It told the same story, but didn’t rehash most of the stuff from the original, making it different enough from the movie I just saw a few days ago (and actually rewatched right before I watched the remake) that the jokes were funny all over again.
2. It had most of the iconic scenes from the original, but fun spins were put on them, and the order of events was drastically changed around, so that I didn’t know what was going to happen next at any point in the movie. Changing the event order is actually very helpful with making the story work in a remake (now granted, this isn’t possible with every single movie, but with “Adventures in Babysitting” it works).
Those are the things that really made the remake a fantastic one. Now for the comparison to the original (I’ll try not to give too many spoilers, in case you DO decide to see it).
The main difference from the original movie is that the remake features two babysitters and two families with kids. One of the baby sitters, Jenny Parker (I wonder if this is a subtle reference to Jennifer Parker, the character that Elizabeth Shue played in Back to the Future Part 2), is organized and neat, and has lots of experience in babysitting. The other, Lola Perez, is disorganized and laid back, and has never babysat before, and is only doing so in order to earn money to pay off a parking ticket.
Of course, things don’t go well for Lola, and after a few minutes, the stove catches on fire. And also, in a chance meeting at the beginning of the movie, Lola and Jenny accidentally swapped phones, and Jenny happens to call her phone to figure out where Lola is so she can swap back. She happens to call right in the middle of the stove fire scene, and discovers that Lola is babysitting. Knowing that Lola has absolutely no experience with babysitting, Jenny rushes the kids out to the car and drives out to where Lola is to help her. Thus begin the misadventures.
Yes, the premise is almost completely different from the original, but like I said, that makes the story different enough that I’m still able to enjoy it and pick up a few laughs along the way. After the premise, the story becomes a lot more like the original movie, with the babysitters having to take the kids out to look for somebody, and getting stranded in the big city (which is just a generic “big city” in this version, which I like better than the Chicago setting of the original, as it gives it more of a feel that this could happen to anyone, anywhere, which makes it funnier).
Like I said, the events are in a completely different order, and have twists on them, in order to keep the plot unpredictable. In some cases, the scenes are modified enough that you won’t even realize that you’re watching a particular familiar scene until about halfway through the scene. It’s very cleverly done.
The two babysitters are rivals, and thus we get a bit more character development than we do in the original version. But it does beg the question; did it actually NEED character development, or was it fine the way it was? I’m still undecided. In any case, the change of having two babysitters and families as opposed to one actually worked, and I didn’t find it contrived at all.
The kids that are being babysat are decidedly better in the original. The kids in the original were more realistic, while the ones in the remake were clearly played up to be the stereotypical “cute kids” that I’ve seen in so many movies. There’s no Thor-obsessed little girl in the remake either :-(. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the performances of the kids in the remake, but when it comes down to it, I just prefer the ones from the original.
One of my favorite scenes from the original was when the group accidentally wanders into a blues club, and is forced to sing the blues. I found this scene very hilarious, and I hoped that the remake would be able to put a new spin on this scene for a modern audience. And they delivered. Oh boy, did they deliver! Instead of a blue’s club, it’s a night club with a DJ up on the stage. The DJ tells them, “When it’s your first time, you gotta bust a rhyme!” and he forces Jenny to rap. Jenny starts out nervous, but once Lola comes on with the second verse and tries to out-rap her, Jenny gains more confidence and the rap is a huge hit. The scene was a great spin on the original, and I found it just as funny as the original.
Most of the iconic quotes from the original movie are spoken in this version, though they are changed in order to fit with the modern era of the movie, and in one case, a cuss word is replaced in one of the quotes (I personally didn’t mind this as I don’t really like cussing, but I know that many others have different opinions from me, so I just had to acknowledge the censorship).
A few things that I missed; there’s no Brenda (the group instead leaves the house in order to find one of the kids who ran off to see a concert), no nice bad guy that doesn’t really want to hurt the kids (there’s just two bad guys that are weirdos), and no kid stuck on the side of a building needing to be rescued (there is no parallel scene in the remake, at least not one that I caught).
However, I have to say that this was one of the better modern Disney Channel movies. It’s funny, clever, and even has some subtle adult jokes thrown in (which surprised me). I’m happy to add this one to my list of favorite Disney Channel movies.
I seriously suggest checking this remake out. I thought it was a fresh take on the original, and very funny.
The Zequels do pale in comparison! And Susie Q was my favorite movie for a good portion of elementary school. It sounds like the new movie is more of a re-imagining than a straight remake, which I always prefer. It’s too bad about Thor though. Thanks for giving me the scoop! I think it’s a premise that allows for each version to be a little different. Kind of like how the Freaky Friday movie you mentioned is a little different than the original and a little different than the one they made a few years later with Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis.