1987; Rated PG-13; 102 Minutes
Debra Hill and Lynda Obst; Directed by Chris Columbus;
Screenwritten by David Simkins
by DAVID KEYES
title "Adventures In Babysitting" induces a sense of anticipation
because it immediately fills the mind with all sorts of
nostalgic memories, the kind in which we as the children
were able to turn simple tasks into rousing adventures simply
by breaking the rules. For many, such undertakings were
the first stage of rebellion, a sign that the future would
be just as wild and unpredictable as the years of our youth
made them out to be. Unfortunately, time proved otherwise;
life is really a challenge in disguise of a fun-filled journey,
tangled by all sorts of prejudices and dementia. And because
we only have one childhood, a little movie like this is
good for the soul who wants to revisit the rebellious past.
That may not excuse the film from breaking every logical
rule in the book, but it certainly doesn't interfere with
the fun factor.
film stars Elizabeth Shue as Chris Parker, a high-school
Senior who devotes much of her time and energy to her much
older boyfriend. But when he shows up one morning to cancel
an important date, Chris is encouraged to spend the evening
baby-sitting a neighbor's daughter and son while their parents
are at an important dinner date in the city. The idea is
not the most exciting thing on her agenda, but she accepts
evening gets off to a typical start, with Chris meeting
the two children (a girl named Sara who has an obsession
with Thor, and a teen named Brad who has secretly generated
a crush on Chris at school) as their parents set off for
their busy evening. She expects to sit down to a routine,
quiet night when her best friend calls up on the phone,
alone at the bus station without money after an attempt
to run away from home has apparently failed. Since the stop
is deep in the city, Chris takes the two children along
with her to rescue her desperate friend.
for the ride is Daryl, a horny and perverted teenager who
shares the same crush as his best friend, Brad. Halfway
down the freeway a tire goes flat. Simple problem, right?
Wrong--Chris' parents have neglected to restock the spare.
The next plan: flag someone down to go buy another. Next
problem: Chris has forgotten her checkbook. Such solutions
and problems arise further into the story, and the four
individuals eventually wind up in a truck of a man with
a hook in place of a missing hand. Further tension thickens
when they attempt to hide in a nearby car after the man
attacks his wife's lover at his home, and the car is hijacked
by a member of a secret thief operation in the heart of
seldom do we believe any of these things are possible, though;
most baby-sitting adventures are the kind that take place
at home when little brats drop paint on the carpet, set
fire to a bedroom, or give the family pets a home perm.
Yet they are exciting in their own, warped way--some of
the situations are like fantasies of a child's dreams, in
which they take all sorts of everyday scenarios and supply
them with fearsome but daring antics. There is one peculiar
but fun scene in which the four kids, chased down by determined
employees of the car theft ring, wind up inside a blues
club in which the current act demands that they continue
on his entertainment ("no one leaves here without singing
the blues"). Other similar occurrences: the four wind up
on an empty subway, and are suddenly cornered by two rival
gangs armed with switchblades and bad tempers (Brad, one
of the teens, winds up taking a mild knife wound in the
foot); later, they are chased farther into the city and,
ironically, to the very building in which Sara and Brad's
parents are at a party. All of this stuff happens with swiftness
and determination; clocking in at approximately 102 minutes,
the movie covers a lot of ground, but speeds up the pace
in order to do so with its given time limit.
script depends much on coincidences to heighten the excitement,
although most of them are a little transparent and lack
the necessary tension. The most flawed, and perhaps unnecessary,
sequence involves the little girl Sara scaling the outside
windows of a large high rise in hopes of hiding from those
chasing her down. One of the bad guys "heroically" steps
out on the ledge to save her, only to get caught himself
as she is saved by her baby-sitter. This dreary climax not
only lacks momentum, but fails to live up to the thrills
of the previous adventures in the city.
In Babysitting" is hardly an involving misadventure for
suburb kids in a vast city. But it has fun with itself,
and that's important; given this type of straightforward
material, one cannot expect to find much to enjoy unless,
at first, the script is able to realize it's evident simplicity
and relish in the clichés. At that point, the characters
are cut free from their restrictions and allowed to explore
areas of the city not usually seen in those pretty postcards
with the words "wish you were here" stamped on front. This
is really just innocent material with a tendency to flout
basic guidelines and stray from the perimeters of believability.
Then again, when has there ever been a movie this fun without
at first being implausible?
2000, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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