Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
“She thought babysitting was easy money – until she started hanging out with the Andersons.”
Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Elisabeth Shue, Maia Brewton, Keith Coogan
Synopsis: Chris Parker agrees to babysit after her date stands her up. Expecting a dull evening, Chris settles down with three kids for a night of TV…
Most boys could only dream of having a luscious babysitter like Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue – Piranha 3D), who agrees to sit for 15-year-old Brad (Keith Coogan) – even though he was way too old in the 1980s to even need a babysitter – and his little sister, Sara (Maia Brewton – Back to the Future). It’s hardly surprising that Brad has a major crush on Chris, but she’s is in thrall to Mike (Bradley Whitford – The Cabin in the Woods, Saving Mr Banks), an obvious sleaze whose last minute cancelling of their date is the reason she’s free to sit. No sooner have Brad and Sara’s parents left for their evening out, however, than Chris’s best friend, Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller – The Artist) phones to say she’s stranded at the city’s train station after an abortive attempt at leaving home and is in urgent need of rescuing from an assortment of weirdos and down-and-outs. Against her better judgment, Chris loads the kids – and Brad’s lecherous best friend Daryl (Anthony Rapp) – into her car in order to save her friend. However, a puncture on the freeway marks the beginning of an increasingly fraught night which sees the kids and their sitter tangling with a criminal gang.
It’s weird the way that movies made in the 1980s look so much more dated than those made in the 1970s. Everything from the fashions to Shue’s big hair to the lack of modern day technology makes Adventures in Babysitting seem like something of a relic (just think how different the movie would have been if Chris had only had a mobile phone). Shue’s role as a pleasingly wholesome heroine is also something that is rarely – if ever – found in a modern movie that isn’t aimed squarely at young kids. We never really feel that she and her precocious charges are ever in any genuine danger, but that’s probably what keeps the movie enjoyable – and that’s not an easy trick to pull off without making your villains appear to be cartoon-like buffoons. Overall, Adventures in Babysitting provides decent enough entertainment if you’re in an undemanding mood. Look out for a near unrecognisable Vincent D’Onofrio (The Thirteenth Floor, Fire With Fire) as a car mechanic mistaken for Thor by little Maia Brewton’s character.
(Reviewed 26th October 1987)