Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

Stray dog.

Stray dog.

Poor Chris Parker. Her boyfriend, Mike, is “so cool” but instead of celebrating their anniversary at a French restaurant in the big city of Chicago, he has to stay home with his contagiously ill younger sister. Chris’s friend Brenda can’t stay over and hang out, because she has to go spike her step-mom’s Tab with Drano. Instead of staying home and wallowing in her own depression, Chris takes an emergency babysitting job watching the Andersons. As Brenda so eloquently puts it, it’s a job “that’ll depress anyone.”

Dear, young Brad Anderson’s got it real bad for Chris Parker, but his young age and pimples keeps them worlds apart. Sarah Anderson really doesn’t give a shit about anything except the comic book hero Thor and her roller skates. Their parents are totally loaded and off to the city for a big party. Chris thinks Brad’s spending the night at his friend Daryl’s house, but once Daryl finds out Chris is babysitting the Andersons, he’s bringing a

She's got the babysitting blues. Seriously this happened.

She’s got the babysitting blues. Seriously this happened.

sleeping bag over there instead! He can’t even wait to show Brad this month’s Playboy centerfold: Miss March looks just like Chris!

Alas, instead of spiking her step-mom’s tab with Drano, Brenda instead runs away from home. Brilliantly, she uses all of her money on the cab ride to the bus station downtown. She’s freaking out because there are homeless minorities there, and calls Chris to have her come pick her up. Brad, Sarah and Daryl all use their suburban wiles to convince Chris to bring them along on what will be the scariest adventure they’ve ever experienced!

The kids don’t stand a chance. Car-less, wallet-less and street-smart-less, the kids wander around Chicago. The stuff of suburban nightmares is hiding around every corner: hook-handed truckers, car thieves, cheating wives, blues bands, The Lords of Hell and frat boys all make an indelible impression on the kids. But even folks in the mean, old city offer a helping hand and somehow everything ends up okay.

When helmets and horns meet.

When helmets and horns meet.

This is one of those movies I watched a whole hell of a lot as a kid. As an adult, some of the scenes are downright embarrassing (that song in the blues club just plain hurts to watch), but I still can’t help but find this movie adorably entertaining. Most of the time, I think this movie is pretty smart – it knows its audience is loaded with a bunch of suburban kids, and I think it’s trying to make some attempt at reexamining suburban fears of the city. Like, hey, don’t be so afraid of that guy just because he’s got a hook for a hand, he doesn’t want to scrape your face off, allright? Chill. But then other times, the movie does exactly what you don’t want it to do and makes the white frat boy a hero. Ultimately, then, if this film has a message I guess it’s this: it’s okay to go into the city sometimes, kids, but you’ll never really belong there, and you certainly don’t belong with those urban folk, so you better just go back to the suburbs after your night out on the town, mmkay?


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