Revisited: Adventures in Babysitting

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!:)

After her boyfriend, Mike Todwell (Bradley Whitford), cancels their anniversary date, 17-year-old Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) volunteers to babysit for the Andersons’ children, 15-year-old Brad (Keith Coogan), who is infatuated with Chris, and 8-year-old Sara (Maia Brewton), who is infatuated with the superhero Thor. However, she gets a frantic phone call from her friend Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller), who has run away from home, asking her to come pick her up after running out of money from the cab ride to the bus station. Throughout the film, Brenda’s situation is interspersed with the rest of the film, showing her dealing with a bum who thinks a phone booth is his house, a homeless woman who steals her glasses, a hot dog vendor who demands payment only in cash, and her holding a stray cat, refusing to hand it over to animal control officers until they inform her that what she is holding is actually a sewer rat, which she cannot recognize due to her lack of eyeglasses. Chris takes Brad, Sara, and Brad’s friend Daryl Coopersmith (Anthony Rapp) and sets out, but they get a flat tire, find the spare compartment empty, and become stranded on the expressway.

A friendly tow truck driver with a hook on one of his hands, “Handsome” John Pruitt (John Ford Noonan), realizing they are on their own in the city for the first time, offers to tow them to Dawson’s Garage free of charge. En route to the garage, he gets a call on his CB saying that his wife is cheating on him and he heads home. The kids look away when Pruitt claims that he keeps his severed hand in his glove compartment, which in truth it contains his firearm, then a brief shootout ensues in which during the crossfire the windshield of Chris’ family car is shattered. During their scramble to get away, the kids unwittingly climb into a Cadillac just as it is being hotwired by a professional car thief, Joe Gipp (Calvin Levels). Gipp promises to help them get out of the city but first he needs to get the car to his boss at a chop shop. Gipp’s boss briefly detains the kids, then decides to leave them in his office as he has more important issues with his underlings. Daryl finds a Playboy magazine and steals it before they escape onto the building’s roof; however, it contains incriminating notes, causing the crooks to chase after them. They stumble into a Blues club and are forced to sing about their ordeal by Albert Collins, receiving applause from the audience. Billy Branch plays himself as the harmonica player in this scene. After they have left, the car thieves are held up when they are forced to do the same thing.

The car thieves manage to once again catch up to the kids, but the four narrowly escape by stowing away aboard a Chicago ‘L’ train. Inside the near-empty train, Chris and the children become suddenly caught in the middle of a gang fight in which Brad is injured and taken to the hospital (Mercy Medical Center), where an Indian doctor first says Brad is dead, but embarrassingly then says he mixed up his patients and that Brad only fainted from the shock and that the doctor has easily patched up the knife wound, which only knicked Brad’s foot. The group again encounters Pruitt, who is on the run due to his earlier fight. He tells Chris he took responsibility for the broken windshield, replacing that at his expense, but that his boss Dawson charged them $50 for a new tire and that he will keep the car until the debt is squared. They then come across a college fraternity party at Daryl almost gets into a fight with a jock whose lonely girlfriend attempts to make out with him. Chris encounters a fraternity member Dan Lynch (George Newbern), who is a gentleman to her, but only can offer Chris $45 towards her debt with Dawson. Dan then drives them to Dawson’s garage.

In the garage, Dawson (Vincent D’Onofrio) is seen with a sledgehammer, which makes Sara believe he is Thor. Chris gives him Dan’s cash, but he says that is insufficient to release the car. Sara says that Thor would not be stingy like that, and she gives him her plastic winged helmet, causing Dawson to reconsider and allowing Chris to reclaim the car. On their way through the city, they pass by the restaurant to where Mike was going to bring Chris on their date, and Daryl spots his car parked out front. She goes in to find him flirting with the sleazy Sesame Plexer. Furious, Chris yells at Mike, but when he insults her, Brad and Daryl shove him into a table full of food. Meanwhile, Sara wanders off and is spotted by Joe Gipp and Graydon, the underboss of the car theft ring. She is chased to the Crain Communications Building, where her parents are attending a party. Sara tries to find her parents to get to safety, but she ends up the unoccupied top floor, which is undergoing renovation. She then uses a rope to escape, but finds herself dangling precariously. Graydon goes out on the ledge in order to rescue Sara, but the intent of his rescue is to capture her to find out what happened to the crucial plans. At the last moment, Sara is rescued by Chris and Joe, who has turned on his bosses and is now convinced to go straight, joking to Chris that her babysitting job is tougher than anything he has done.

The group successfully pick ups Brenda, whom Chris returns to her house, telling Brenda she just has to face her own problems with her family. The group then speeds back to the Anderson residence. Chris sends the kids upstairs while she quickly tidies up the mess left earlier in the day. She settles in just as Mr. and Mrs. Anderson walk in through the door. She goes up to say good night to the kids and they all thank each other for the greatest night of their lives. As she leaves, Dan shows up to return Sara’s skate which she had accidentally left behind, but notes that wasn’t the only reason, and they share a kiss.

A post-credits scene shows Graydon still leaning against the side of the building, desperately waiting for rescue.


Well, it appears that is my 2000th post, so it better be a good one, right? How does Adventures in Babysitting sound? Recently, I’ve gotten addicted to taking those Buzzfeed movie quizzes. One of them was about how many movies have you seen from the 80s. I thought I would’ve done better than I did, but oh well. Let there be one from the 40s or 50s, maybe even the 60s, and I bet I get a really high score! Ha! Enough rambling, let’s get to the review, shall we?

What is this about?

When Chris agrees to baby-sit for the Andersons after her boyfriend stands her up, it’s hardly the boring night she expected. Chris takes the kids along on an errand to downtown Chicago, but one flat tire leads to an outrageous all-night fiasco.

What is this about?

Excitement. There is a reason adventure is in the title. Along with all the comedy this film has to offer, the entire film is a caper. For those of us that didn’t grow up in a major metropolis, an outing to the big city with the parents was enough of an adventure. Just imagine what it would have been like to experience said trip with a babysitter, no money, and car thieves chasing you.

Blues. “Don’t nobody leave here without singing the blues.” As part of their trek across downtown Chicago, a town that look beautiful at night, btw (they just don’t show cities at night like this anymore…at least to the point that the audience can enjoy them), they end up in a blues club and Elizabeth Shue’s character is forced to sing the blues, with the kids backing her up. Now, a group of white kids from the suburbs on stage at a blues club on the wrong side of Chicago is sure to not go over well with the crowd, as you can imagine, but since this is a family film, you can also imagine that they’ll eventually warm up to them with a good performance, and that is what we get, in perhaps the most memorable scene of the film.

Back in time. Maybe it is because of the strict copyright laws (and greedy artists/companies) we have today, but 30 years from now, I don’t think any of us are going to be able to watch a film and be transported back to today based strictly on the soundtrack. This film doesn’t sport a soundtrack that is indicative of the era, such as Back to the Future, Animal House, or Clueless, but it is definitely 80s, one of the most entertaining eras for music, if nothing else. One the opening tune started, I was immediately taken back to my childhood (I was in elementary school when this was released) and had a strong desire to torture my big sister.

What didn’t I like?

Car trouble. This whole adventure happens because of car trouble. Well, actually, it starts because of Chris’ friend running away, but who is arguing exact details, right? The whole busted tire and all the trouble that happens accordingly has never really made much sense. Not because it happened, but because she didn’t have a spare. As someone says to her, “You got on the freeway without a spare?!?” Even the most inexperienced driver knows to not go anywhere without the right preparations. Since this is her parents’ car, it just seems like common sense that, unless they were driving around on a donut, they would have a spare. Why didn’t they, other than this is just a convenient plot device to get the ball rolling?

Playboy. We are constantly being teased with how much Elisabeth Shue’s character looks like the current Playboy centerfold. Keep in mind that this is somewhat of a Disney film. I say somewhat because the company that released it was owned by Disney. At any rate, even though there is some choice language sprinkled in here and there, this is a pretty clean picture. That being said, I can’t help but wish they would have given us a glimpse at said centerfold. Not because I would have gotten some horny pleasure from it, but rather because 80s films are known for gratuitous nudity, a little glimpse at a Playboy wouldn’t have hurt, now would it?

Thor. Maia Brewton’s character is obsessed with Thor. In this day and age, where superheroes have all but taken over all of pop culture that hasn’t been polluted by the kardashians, miley cyrus, and the like, a little girl obsessed with the Norse God of thunder is nothing, but remember that this was released in the late 80s. I don’t even think our current Thor, Chris Hemsworth was out of diapers, yet. I don’t need to tell you that this Thor obsession was a bit much, but when you notice that the guy in charge of the garage happens to look like he could play Thor (he doesn’t look anything like that anymore, fyi), it makes me wonder if they had plans to do something more Thor-ish at some point, but instead, we just get the annoying references to Thor from Brewton every chance she gets.

Can I go back to this simpler time, please? Adventures in Babysitting made me realize how much the world has change in a short amount of time, and not for the better. This is one of those films that sets out to entertain, and does so in spades. Do I recommend it? Yes, very emphatically! Sometimes you just cannot go wrong with a classic film from a time not so far gone. Give it a shot some time, why don’t you?

5 out of 5 stars


2 Responses to “Revisited: Adventures in Babysitting”

  1. […] Shue does nothing but act as a paranoid mother. It is like she grew up from being the babysitter in Adventures in Babysitting, who was also on the paranoid side if you recall, to this mother who doesn’t want her […]

  2. […] Remember Elisabeth Shue? Well, she may best be known as the babysitter in Adventures in Babysitting. She did a few films after that, but for the most part she disappeared from the business, only to […]

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