Saturday, May 24, 2014

Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

Babysitting isn’t a particularly glorious job.  I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with it.  It’s just not really something most people aspire to be.  It’s the kind of thing that girls do in high school.  Chris would rather be on a date with her boyfriend Mike.  When he cancels at the last minute, she’s left with nothing to do, so she accepts an offer to watch Sara.  Sara’s brother, Brad, is supposed to be over at the house of his friend, Daryl, but Brad has a bit of a crush on Chris, so they both end up staying over at Brad’s place.

Normally a babysitting job would begin and end there.  They’d spend the night watching movies and eating popcorn.  Everyone would be in bed at an appropriate hour.  However, Chris gets a call from her friend, Brenda.  Brenda decided to run away from home, but failed to consider that the cab ride to the bus station would cost everything she had.  She has to call Chris collect to ask for a ride home.

This puts Chris in a difficult position.  She can’t leave her friend at the bus station, which is in a rough area.  She can’t leave the kids home alone, as she was paid to watch them.  She reluctantly agrees to take the kids to the rough area to get her friend, expecting that she’ll get there and back quickly.  That’s where the flat tire comes in.  A friendly tow-truck driver agrees to help, but takes a detour when he finds out that his wife is cheating on him.

The adventure begins when Chris, Brad, Daryl and Sara have to hide in a car to avoid the driver’s gunfire.  The car is being stolen by Joe Gipp.  Rather than let them out in a bad neighborhood, he takes them back to the chop shop where he works.  This doesn’t sit well with his employers.  They manage to escape, but not before Daryl takes an adult magazine that contains important information.  Chris and Co. now have to get the car back, pick up Brenda and get home before the parents do, which isn’t going to be easy, considering that they’ve got some bad people after them.

Much of the humor comes from the fact that something like this would probably never happen.  Even if a friend of yours did get stranded at a bus station, they’d probably have another friend they could call for help.  Even if you did have to pick them up, it probably would go smoothly.  Just take the scene in the blues place.  Chris has to get everyone to safety by singing the blues.  (“Nobody leaves this place without singing the blues.”)

Although I don’t recall watching this movie before, there is some nostalgia.  I’m part of a generation that remembers a time before cell phones.  I remember why forgetting a checkbook was a big deal.  Even if they had roadside assistance back then, they would have had to walk to get to a payphone.  Breaking down on a highway wasn’t good.

There are a few familiar faces.  Elisabeth Shue plays Chris.  (It took me a moment to place her.)  We also get to see Vincent D’Onofrio as the owner of the repair shop, who Sara mistakes for Thor.  (Sara’s a big fan of Thor.)  Also look out for Bradley Whitford as Chris’s boyfriend.

I’d say the movie is safe for teenagers and above.  There is some cursing and name calling and the characters are put in some dangerous situations.  (And, there’s a Playvboy that makes a few appearances.)  You might get nervous with some of the bus-station scenes, but it’s the kind of thing I would feel safe watching with my mother.

IMDb page

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