a critiQal film review Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: When plans with her boyfriend fall through, high school senior Chris Parker (Shue) ends up babysitting the Anderson kids, Brad (Coogan) and Sara (Brewton). What should be a quiet night in, however, turns into a series of ridiculous exploits, starting when they leave the house to pick up Chris' friend. Soon, Brad's buddy Daryl (Rapp) is involved, and the group must contend with car thieves, blues musicians and much more.

496 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 28s)

Once again perusing NetFlix®, we found another 80’s movie that we hadn’t reviewed yet: Adventures in Babysitting. Starring Elisabeth Shue and directed by Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)), this was my sister’s favorite movie back when rentals were on videocassettes. Not having seen the film for years, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Would this still be a feel-good adventure? Or has time amped up the cheese factor a bit too much?

Elisabeth Shue, who would go on to give a powerful performance in Leaving Las Vegas many years later, is cute and bubbly as the babysitter in this film. While her character isn’t very deep, she still gives a decent performance, and is able to show conflicting emotions (what there are of them, anyway) decently well. True, Adventures in Babysitting isn’t exactly Oscar-worthy, but she still does a decent job with what she’s given.

The rest of the cast are even more simplistic, simply cardboard cutouts to give Shue some backdrop. Anthony Rapp and Keith Coogan, who have shown up in surprisingly different films since, are decent at being awkward. They provide a decent, if quickly forgettable backdrop, as does Maia Brewton, who plays the young sister.

The biggest surprise looking back on Adventures in Babysitting now lies in the supporting cast. With Vincent D’Onofrio (“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (TV)) showing up as a blond car mechanic, to Penelope Ann Miller (Carlito’s Way) as the stranded friend, and Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing” (TV)) as the cheating boyfriend, it’s fun to spot the star as the film goes on.

The sequence of events that propels Adventures in Babysitting is nothing short of ridiculous. As these clueless suburbanites ricochet their way through the urban sprawl known only as “The City” in the film, they bounce from one bad situation to another, yet manage to make it through with barely more than a scratch. It’s totally ludicrous, and while viewers probably enjoyed the silliness in the 80’s, the chain of events may evoke more than a groan or two as they continue.

Toss in numerous stereotypes (black people in this city are apparently blues lovers or car thieves only; street gangs look like they’ve been ripped from West Side Story, etc.) that will cause more groans, and anyone seeing this film for the first time may find it difficult to make it all the way through. Your best bet: go in thinking the movie will be ludicrously cheesy, and prepare yourself. That’s the best you can do. Toss in numerous cliches and an ending that adds more cheese, and it’s obvious that Adventures in Babysitting shouldn’t be taken seriously.

Maybe some nostalgia for viewers seeing it again may help, but first-timers should probably avoid the film. Stick with watching Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas instead.

Oh, and for you PEZheads out there that are looking for the “Thor” sequence – for some reason, that’s been removed from the NetFlix® version, so you may have to actually buy the film for that.

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