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.