Adventures In Babysitting (1987)
Director: Chris Columbus
Screenwriter: David Simkins
Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Vincent D’Onofrio, Penelope Ann Miller, George Newburn, Maia Brewton, Keith Coogan, Anthony Rapp, Calvin Levels
A stood-up babysitter gets more than she bargained for when her efforts to retrieve her stranded bestie at the bus station are sabotaged at every turn.
Chris Parker (Shue) is your typical 80’s teenager, dancing in front of the mirror with a head full of curls and a hunky boyfriend in her picture frame. Unfortunately, Chris’ Camaro-driving dreamboat stands her up and she is left to babysit the Anderson children; Brad (Newburn) and Sarah (Brewton).
When her best friend Brenda (Miller) calls to say she has run away from home and is stuck at the bus station, Chris is blackmailed to taking the children out of the suburbs and into the big bad city. A quick 30 minute drive turns into an all-nighter misadventure. Que giggles.
It would be easy to overlook this movie as a run of the mill comedy caper, but in actual fact there is much more R-rated hilarity in this film than meets the eye (massive over-exaggeration but the F word is used – twice).
It seems that Shue will always wear the 80’s cult crown, cutting her teeth with Karate Kid, Cocktail and Back To The Future II & III but this is arguably her best and most pronounced role.
The film highlights the divide between an easy-going American suburban lifestyle versus the turbulent and often violent crush of New York City. Columbus and Simkins were able to convey the political and social duality of the country through a bunch of children – who are constantly in both the right and wrong places – while still having a cutting sense of humour about it; not an easy feat, but one that could only have been accomplished in this golden decade of film.
As Chris and the kids encounter gang wars, extreme poverty, violence and cruelty, they also encounter love, generosity and compassion. With a soundtrack bluesy enough to have you reaching for the whiskey but upbeat enough to have you dancing with your dog, this film of contrasts is a mile-a-minute laughathon.
Combining a deep and mature understanding of what life may have felt like for a young American woman on the verge of adulthood, with the innocence and bravado of children, Adventures In Babysitting is both thought-provoking and down-right hysterical.
Watch out for Mrs. Anderson’s ridiculously cliche 80’s dress that makes her look like a walking Werthers Original , the hot dog vendor that doesn’t want to slip Brenda a wiener and (my personal favourite) Sarah’s encounter with the bathroom line Viking.
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