Shooing away her babysitting blues…
A babysitter Chris and her charges have a night they won’t forget.
Adventures in Babysitting Original Movie Trailer , Club1981Channel and photos from Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
As an 18-year-old teen with a big imagination, I wanted to be the leading lady, Elisabeth Shue in the movie, Adventures in Babysitting (1987). Or as it’s known in some countries A Night on the Town. This is for her introduction to her character, Chris Parker in the opening credits of this movie where she dances in a dance routine Catherine Zeta Jones in Chicago (2002) could pull off – but sadly not me – to the Beach Boys’ Then I Kissed Her.
In this case, the iconic song is sung by The Crystals and therefore all her references changed to him to fit this girly movie. This wish was also due to the cast including the then cute but mulleted – as most men were back then including the original Dallas‘ Bobby Ewing – George Newbern who was one of my younger 1980s crushes. With the much older ones mentioned here.
I came across Adventures in Babysitting purely by accident. On a stormy, rainy night on my first holiday in Ostend in Belgium with my still BFF (of over 32 years without a fallout) we stumbled across a cinema showing this film or a Sean Connery movie. We plonked for the to be reviewed movie.
As my tasting of Belgian beer well and truly satiated, a cinema trip watching trip was a happy alternative. Despite our fear of translation of the film – after the credits started – which luckily wasn’t justified we settled down to watch the film.
The film tells of 17 years old Chris Parker (Shue) who gets ready for her date with her boyfriend. Chris lip-syncing and dances to the Beach Boys’ track over the opening credits. In the opposite to a Tom Cruise for girls routine (as this scene reminded me of the famous scene from Risky Business (1983)), it’s more wholesome and sweet.
Chris’s boyfriend calls over and says his sister is unwell and he has to cancel. This leaves Chris to talk about her woes with her best girly pal, Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller). Brenda however has upsets of her own with troubles at home. When the ’80s mum suggests Chris babysits the Anderson kids, Chris obliges.
On meeting the Anderson kids, there’s 8-year-old Sara (Maia Brewton). Sara is Thor’s greatest fan complete with a helmet, comics and colouring book. With much more numerous Thor paraphernalia – that any of the Norse Gods fans now would give their eye teeth for – in her bedroom. Combined with her roller skates she has to be the coolest wee sister ever.
Her big brother Brad is a mulleted 15-year-old (Keith Coogan) who has a bit of a crush on this babysitter. Everyone knows and comments about this to his constant embarrassment. Brad even calls off his sleepover at friend Daryl’s just to be with her. However, Daryl (Anthony Rapp) on finding out this is the reason then jibes Brad about this unrequited love. Especially as Brad’s seen by her as a child.
Living in the suburbs, Mr and Mrs Anderson leave for their party in downtown Chicago. Chris barely has time to relax as Brenda is frantically calling her from a call box. Brenda says she’s penniless and is now stuck in Chicago after running away from home. Chris decides to pick her up with the kids – and a manipulative Daryl – accompanying her.
They set off to Chicago with Sarah taking her beloved helmet and skates and Chris forgetting her purse. On the way there, Chris tells horror stories about a man with a hook. Daryl shows Brad a Playboy with a centrefold who looks strikingly similar to Chris. Just before he loses this magazine from the car window. After getting a flat tyre, the foursome meets their first adventure.
The four meet what appears to be a scary looking lorry driver dude – with the horror story still in their mind – named the Pirate. This is as he has a hook for their hand. But he’s a kindly sort and promises to take them and a car to his friend, Dawson’s garage to be fixed. En route, the Pirate discovers – from Dawson over C.B. radio (ask your dad) – that his wife is possibly having a fling with an unknown man.
He then drives maniacally to his home – with kids and a car in tow – brandishing a gun. At his home, things turn ugly. As after lots of shooting the kids take refuge in this unknown man’s car.. only to find that a car thief, Joe is in the driving seat. Luckily, Joe’s a nice man too and he agrees to drop the four off somewhere safe. But after he takes care of some business.
His business relates to stealing cars to order, with a sinister Bleak (John Davis Chandler) in charge of some shady looking business dudes. The kids are taken to his office and escape. Daryl obtains Bleak’s copy of the Playboy. But unbeknownst to him a client’s order is written on the Chris lookalike centrefold. The kids escape and with the bad guys in tow the kids run and run into the nearest doorway… and that’s not the end of these Adventures in Babysitting…
This is a delightfully told story with you keeping involved from the beginning. Many of the storylines hinge on what’s seen before, so pause before essential breaks. However, what appears to be a kid’s movie is more of a teen movie. Mainly as there are a few more adult references, Playboy is mentioned but with a tasteful pic of Shue wearing more than her birthday suit. A few other scenes hint at having a more sexual connotation.
The writing is credible and has dialogue written for each character is believable for both their gender and age. This reminded me of E.T. : The Extra Terrestrial (1982). The story flows well and is accompanied by a fantastic musical score featuring a wide range of musical types. These from the Blues to 60s hit covers and eerie music in moments of suspense during the film. Such moments come as the four encounter a range of characters and experiences during their fateful night on the town.
However the casting is wonderful, and each of the four main characters has its own individual scenes and shared scenes to shine. Shue excels as a 17-year-old – despite being 24 at the time of filming – and she would be any kid’s dream babysitter looking out for her charges in times of danger and being supportive of their hopes and needs.
The kids are also delightful Maia Brewton as Sarah is fantastic. This is especially when in later scenes she meets a man she believes is her idol. Rapp as Daryl is naive and fun and gives much comic relief to the more serious – and mature Brad. As Brad shows some inner strengths in many later scenes. These are where he grows up in his babysitter’s eyes, showing he’s not just a kid. The adults in the film include Davis Chandler who played the villain. This with a menacing look and presence that was so eerie and frightening, I was afraid for the others in his scenes…
But sadly haven’t seen much of the cast since, Shue who appeared before this film in The Karate Kid (1984) and later Cocktail (1988) as the love interest to a couple of Brat Packers. She also starred in my favourite movie parody, Soapdish (1991) and Piranha (2010). Brewton also starred in Back to the Future (1985).
Newbern appeared in Father of the Bride (1992) and then the ill-conceived sequel to this film mentioned here). He also appeared as Teddy in the travesty of a sequel The Evening Star (1996) (to Terms of Endearment (1983)). Coogan starred in many 1980s productions including The Love Boat (1977-87), Knight Rider (1982-96) and Fantasy Island (1977-84).
Chris and the kids’ escapades are intercut with scenes of Brenda’s experiences giving the film a more rounded feel. These also reflect the babysitter and her charges’ sense of motivation and urgency in their mission Including characters with a surprising turn for Vincent D’Onofrio from Full Metal Jacket (1987) who you might recognise if it wasn’t for his golden locks.
Despite this being a 1980s movie, it has a wonderful timeless feel to it. I’m looking forward to watching this particular gem with my now 10-year-old niece at some point along with Somewhere in Time (1980) and International Velvet (1978). And as she’s a fan of The Slipper and The Rose (1976) I know there’s a good chance she will love this film too as much as I did. The film has a nice 1980s John Hughes feel about it. This with the young Brat Pack lead in Elisabeth Shue and the Chicago setting for the movie, so if this particular shoe fits…
Weeper Rating: 😦😦 😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂🙂 🙂 🙂10
Hulk Rating: 0/10
The Workplace in Film & TV Blogathon 2017, No 45 and Always A Bridesmaid Blogathon 2019 No 71
This review was added to Moon in Gemini’s Workplace in Film and TV Blogathon. It was also added to Hollywood Genes’ Always A Bridesmaid Film Blogathon. Other films with this cast include Elisabeth Shue in Cocktail and Soapdish, and Maia Brewton in Back to the Future. Vincent D’Onofrio starred in Ed Wood. Keith Coogan starred in The Love Boat, Knight Rider, and Fantasy Island.