Adventures In Babysitting [retro review]

“Don’t f**k with the babysitter.”

The Scoop: 1987 PG-13, directed by Chris Columbus and starring Elisabeth Shue, Keith Coogan, Anthony Rapp, and Penelope Ann Miller

Tagline: She thought babysitting was easy money — until she started hanging out with the Andersons.

Summary Capsule: Our intrepid heroine is forced to babysit two typical teenage boys and a girl with a superhero complex. Then they get in trouble.

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Justin’s Rating: From Elisabeth Shue’s lips to mine…

Justin’s Review: All You Need To Know About Adventures In Babysitting is contained within the first scene. Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) is getting undressed/dressed for a date, dancing wildly to ‘And Then He Kissed Me’. It’s what I would call a “Maximum Teenage Fantasy Event Horizon”, as pretty much every guy growing up in the 80s memorized this scene. And let’s not forget Shue’s continued hotness in other films such as The Karate Kid.

Sure, this film may have something in it about getting lost in a big city with lots of hijinks, but it’s really just about perpetuating the largest conspiracy fantasy known to teenage males. Shue is pretty (even for our elevated 90s standards), and we don’t really blame the two teenage boys for trying to hit on her. Tell me, just tell me, that that first scene was utterly necessary to plot development. Heck, even the movie acknowledges this, with snide references to a Shue look-a-like in Playboy. I rest my point.

Aside from all that, I’d say this is an amusing, yet “Diet Lite”, version of the 80s comedies. The setup is both improbable and incredible, as events spiral out of Chris’ control. There’s bad guys, token love interests, and a musical number or two. We all know that in the end the protagonists will manage to wrap everything up neat and tidy-like, but that’s also the fun of such movies.

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Andie’s Rating: If I had a nickel for everytime someone mistakes me for a Playboy centerfold……I wouldn’t have any money.

Andie’s Review: Adventures in Babysitting used to be one of my favorite movies. I saw it when I was like 10 and immediately I thought Chris Parker was the coolest babysitter ever and I wanted to be just like her. I also fell totally in love with both Brad and Daryl and wished my friends’ older brothers were that cute and funny. And finally I decided I needed to live in a city big enough where fun stuff like this could happen to me. I was still young enough to think gang fights, skyscraper scaling, car thieves, chop shops and scary bus stations were exciting and really cool.

I recently went back and watched this gem of a movie again and realized that it is timeless, at least for me. It will always be so funny! The idea is that Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) is a senior in high school (Right. She’s like 24.) and is dating a really scummy guy named Mike, also a senior in high school (Right. He’s like 40. and now he’s on The West Wing). So anyway, Mike cancels their date because his “little sister” is “sick” (which really means that he needs to get a pizza. A pizza ass.) and so Chris gets roped into babysitting for Sarah Anderson. Sarah’s older brother Brad is totally in love with Chris and so he decides to hang around instead of go hang out with his friend Daryl. Daryl doesn’t like this, so he comes over just in time to get in on a search-and-rescue mission to get Chris’ friend Brenda (a pre-hotness Penelope Ann Miller, also like 24) out of a scary bus station in downtown Chicago after she ran away from home.

So our four characters, Chris, Sarah, Brad and Daryl, are off into the city where absolutely nothing can go right for them, much to the delight of the viewers. My favorite non-main character is the first person they meet, a tow truck driver named JP. He has a hook for a hand and looks really creepy, which lends itself well to some good jokes about guys with hooks who scrape faces off and JP telling them he keeps his detached hand in the glove box. Anyway, he is actually really nice and helpful to our luckless protagonists. Speaking of luck, our heroes have the craziest time in the city ever. They have a flat tire, get involved with a car thief, steal a VIP (very important Playboy), sing blues in a club (one of my all time favorite scenes in fluffy movies), stop/participate in a gang fight, go to a frat party, meet a super hero, beat up a scummy boyfriend, slide down the face of a skyscraper and make it home in time to fool the ‘rents into thinking they were safe in their beds the whole time.

An extra added bonus is that every so often we get an update on Bus Station Brenda. She has all sorts of humorous escapades. She kicks a homeless man out of his house, gets her glasses stolen, fondles a rat, steals her glasses back and tries to get an old man to slip her a weiner. It’s a well-done, funny subplot that neither detracts nor overshadows the main characters. Speaking of subplots, there is also a great running joke of Chris being mistaken for that month’s centerfold in Playboy, which is quite funny.

I don’t know how someone could NOT like this movie. Sure, it’s not a serious, stuffy drama that makes you cry your eyes out with every other scene, but how many of those can you really watch before your tearducts dry up and you want to kill yourself? This is a classic 80’s movie, steeped in clever dialogue and outrageous situations, much in the tradition of Goonies and the Indiana Jones movies. So check it out, I promise that the blues singing scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Kyle’s Rating: 2 out of all my former babysitters ended up in Playboy

Kyle’s Review: This is yet another 80’s movie that is essential to have seen at least once so you can catch and make the occasional Adventures in Babysitting conversational reference. As Justin mentioned, once you see this film you’ll ALWAYS think of Elisabeth Shue getting dressed when you hear ‘And Then He Kissed Me’ on the radio. Granted, it would be many many years later till we saw Ms. Shue in true nude glory in Leaving Las Vegas, but this scene is more fun and less depressing in the long run.

If you’ve ever had to babysit, this movie is your worst nightmare: a personal crisis like a friend in need forces you to take your charge(s) with you from the comfortable suburbs into the dark and dank depths of the city, where street punks and gangsters do their best to ruin your night and possibly steal and sell your kids on the black market. Having lived for a while in dark and dank Chicago (where this film and all the best films ever made are based), this movie strikes home. Some people watch this and say, “Even in Chicago, not all of this stuff could ever happen.” I watch this movie, shut off the TV and lights when it’s done, and just sit and weep, because it just happened to me last week.

Here’s a good chunk o’ advice: watch this token 80’s movie, and never EVER ride either El in Chicago. NEVER!

This speaks for itself

Intermission!

  • The first line Daryl says to Chris is, “Road trip?” He later goes on to star as the creepy TA Jacob in Road Trip.
  • There’s an awesome, subtle moment of humor at the Kappa party when Sarah sees a guy who has a Thor hat on just like hers and he gives her the thumbs up. It’s cute. –Andie
  • The license plate on Mike’s says “SO COOL”
  • Mike is played by West Wing’s Bradley Whitford (Josh)
  • Sarah’s very pro-Thor room
  • The most conservative Playboy centerfold picture ever
  • In one scene, a bad guy refers to Chris and the kids as “The Brady Bunch”; in the next scene, Brenda is watching the Brady Bunch at the train station.
  • Thor lives in downtown Chicago
  • The running joke of Chris looking like Miss March
  • One of the movie’s producers is Debra Hill who teamed up with John Carpenter to make Halloween, a horror movie about murdered babysitters! Listen carefully when Sara and Kris watch TV, the music you can hear is John Carpenter’s chilling Halloween theme.
  • Although this is supposed to be set in Chicago, the movie was actually filmed in Toronto, and there are numerous small details that point this out.
  • Sara wears a backpack with a picture of Gizmo on it. This is a reference to Gremlins which was written by director Chris Columbus.
  • An Adventures in Babysitting TV pilot was made in 1989, starring Jennifer Guthrie as Chris, and Joey Lawrence as Brad, but never ended up as a show.
  • Is It Worth Staying Through End Credits? At the end of the credits is a shot of the thug who chased the little girl outside of skyscraper whimpering about being stuck out there.

Groovy Quotes

Brenda: That’s why we have to get out of here. It’s like a Dairy Queen, you only get one flavor.

Brenda: My mom is driving me crazy. If I don’t get out of the house, I’ll spike her Tab with Drano.

Sarah: Thor’s my hero.
Brad: Thor’s a homo.

[from a phone booth at the bus station]
Brenda: Chris, I’m begging you. I’ve just seen 3 people shoot up, a bald Chinese lady with no pants on and there’s a man outside who wants his bedroom slippers!

Chris: If you give me any crap over the next 60 minutes, I swear to God I’ll kill you. Dead. Murdered. Stabbed.
Daryl: Raped?

JP: I just wanna help.
Daryl: Don’t listen to him. He just wants to scrape our faces off.

[as JP reaches into the glove box]
Brad: Oh god! Is it a hand?
Daryl: No.
Brad: Oh good.
Daryl: It’s a gun.
Brad: Oh god!

Brad: Could you just drop us off at the nearest mall?
Joe: A mall? What you think this, Boise, Idaho?

Joe: Hey, I like danger.
Chris: You should try babysitting.

Chris: I don’t think your parents’ll ever ask me to babysit again.
Brad: If they do, I’d ask for a buck more an hour.

Mike: You’re picking ’em kinda young, aren’t ya?
Chris: This kid’s got more class at 15 than you’ll ever have.

College Girl: I’m so lonely!
Daryl: How could a righteous babe like you be lonely?
College Girl: That’s the sweetest thing anybody’s ever said to me! Wanna go to bed?

Brad: Sarah, did you take my Clearasil again?
Sarah: I ran out of brown.

Chris: Who was at the door?
Brad: Stray dog.
Chris: Huh?

Old guy: [banging on telephone booth] You’re in my house!

Chris: [telling a scary story] When the babysitter looks closer at the kids’ faces she sees… they don’t have any faces!
Sarah: Oh my god!
Chris: It’s just a pool of mushy goo!
Sarah: Like Spaghetti-Os?

[repeated line, whenever they’re in trouble]
Sarah: This is GREAT!

Father: Chris can handle it.
Mother: Sure, Sarah’s probably hanging from the rafters right now.
[cut to the kids walking across the rafters of the chop shop]

Chris: Nobody panic. This is all just a big mistake.
Sarah: What about Brenda?
Brad: That was her parents’ mistake.

Albert Collins: Nobody leaves this place without singing the blues.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • License To Drive
  • Gremlins
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2 Comments

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