Saturday, November 2, 2013

Adventures In Babysitting

I know it has been about a month or two since I last blogged but October is too much of a temptation to talk about horror films and since I have decided to stray from that particular genre for a while, I thought it best just to not blog at all. So after a break of watching all my glorious gory and scary films I am back, followers, to lighten up the tone with the movie I said I would talk about many moons ago.

Movie Poster

Since I have been talking about films that graced my childhood, I don't see why I can't talk about movies that were slightly above my normal age group. You know I watched Disney films and animated classics but every once and awhile I saw movies that were a tad more mature. You know now that I think about it my parents weren't very strict about what I could and could not watch so I would find many movies on HBO and Cinemax on Friday and Saturday nights when I could stay up late. I don't really remember when I first saw Adventures In Babysitting but I remember what drew me to it and for those who haven't seen it it's not really a spoiler because it was the opening.

Since my parents listened to what we called "oldies" music of the 1950s and 1960s when I heard that opening to The Crystals "Then He Kissed Me" and saw Elisabeth Shue dancing around her bedroom getting ready for a big date it kind of hit a chord in me. Little girls do the same thing in their rooms singing into hairbrushes and lip-synching to the radio (I did that plenty listening to my Heart and Madonna records) so seeing a (at the time) 24 year old Elisabeth Shue pretending to be 17 doing the same was very relateable to a little girl like myself. Nostalgia glasses set aside for a moment let's continue just a little differently...

Plot After Spoiler Opening Video Goes Like This...

So after all her dancing like an idiot our lead character, Chris Parker, gets the news from her boyfriend Mike that he has to cancel their date because his little sister is sick. Dejected, Chris gets roped into babysitting for the Anderson family's two kids, Brad and Sara. Well only 8 year old Sara really needs a babysitter because Brad is 15 years old and happens to have a huge crush on Chris. It seems the night might be a pretty boring one despite the awkwardness of Brad having to be babysat by his older crush until Chris gets a call from her friend Brenda. She's at the bus station downtown after running away from home and having blown money on the ride there, she now needs Chris to come and pick her up. With no choice but to bring Brad and Sara along, Chris heads out in her mother's car to go pick Brenda up.

She has no idea what she's in for...

Another little quirk in this is that Brad's friend Darryl Coopersmith ends up joining them since Brad was supposed to actually be staying the night at his house but opted out so he could spend the evening in the company of his crush. On the way downtown, the car gets a flat tire and discovering that there is no spare (why would you have no spare tire?) the kids hitch a ride with a tow truck driver, a nice enough fellow named "Handsome" John Pruitt who just so happens to have only one hand and the other is a hook (hand-some get it?) However after getting a ride you think the movie would be over but it's really just the beginning of the true adventure and leading Chris to discover that babysitting isn't what she thought it would be.

Let's go back to an image of the intro just because it was that good...

I am still set in my ways that I not tell you everything about the film just in case a few of you have not had the chance to see this movie. For those of you who have you know that there are way too many plots going on so that if I tell one I may spoil the others. In any case, Adventures In Babysitting was Chris Columbus' first directorial debut and if you don't know who he is then I assume you have been under a rock most of your existence since you obviously have never seen Home Alone or the first two Harry Potter films. I guess I could say that Chris Columbus is another one of my favorite directors because I have at least eight of his films in my own personal movie collection and have seen the other films he has directed but do not personally own. I think he does a fantastic job his first time out on Adventures In Babysitting and has only gotten better in his craft despite mostly being a more family film oriented director and that's just fine. Usually I go straight to the film cast but we're going to shake it up a little this time and go to the soundtrack instead.

Darryl: Yeah let's talk about that soundtrack ...ya think?

Not really commercially available (I haven't really seen it unless it's online to purchase or in a bargain bin somewhere for $1) Adventures In Babysitting is set in Chicago so being said it is known for being the home of soul and the blues. Taking advantage of such a musical heritage, the music heard in the movie is mostly good old rhythm and blues from (as expressed by the opening) the 50s & 60s. There is some Sam Cooke, some Junior Walker, some Edwin Starr, Percy Sledge performs a song after the opening that is very memorable and fantastic, there's some more traditional blues artists like Muddy Waters and Albert Collins (who also appears in the film in one great scene...oops spoiler!). There are some non-blues examples like Iggy Pop and The Rolling Stones but the real standout is a band called Southside Johnny And The (Asbury) Jukes.

See they are a real band from New Jersey that have been around since 1979 and have actually played with Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band. They are still around today and even though they appear in the movie as a cover/bar band (another sorry!) they have released albums in their three basic examples: studio, live and compilations. They perform an original song "Future In Your Eyes" which is very nice of what you get to hear and they perform a cover version of "Expressway To Your Heart" originally by The Soul Survivors which besides being really good is the first song ever written by Gamble & Huff who for those not versed in music trivia were a big songwriting-producing team that skyrocketed soul music in the 60s, 70s and 80s and were very influential in Philadelphia soul. With all of that information if you find anything at all to love about Adventures In Babysitting, for music lovers this soundtrack is tops if nothing else.

Okay the music lover in me got all of that out of the way so now we can focus on the acting and characters in the film and I have a feeling I might spoil a little bit more of Adventures In Babysitting for those who have not seen it...damn it.

Publicity still of Elisabeth Shue for this movie

 Of course, Elisabeth Shue is Chris as you know and I think she does an okay job in the role. I have to admit that this is the only movie I have seen of hers that I actually enjoy. Don't get me wrong I don't think she is a bad actress but I guess the nostalgia just holds me back from liking anything else. For those who love Elisabeth Shue don't bash me because I may have a surprise for you in the future regarding Elisabeth Shue's film roles. My by far favorite character and actor in the film is Anthony Rapp as Darryl Coopersmith! He gets the best lines, has the best laugh ever, is a complete horn dog despite probably not having even gotten to first base with a girl yet and adds so much snark to the film that he is probably the reason it's so funny and comedic in the first place! Anthony has turned into a big Broadway actor having appeared in Rent and many other forms of stage theater as well as still acting in films and television.

Elisabeth Shue, I just love this expression on your face!

 My next favorite character is Brad played by Keith Coogan. Though he is still an example of snarky, comedic timing in his lines and interactions with Darryl/Anthony he is also a very sweet and caring person with a shy side and a very level head on his shoulders. At times he is quite unsure of himself but when he needs to be a big brother to Sara, Brad is and when the time comes for him to act a little more mature than Darryl he does in a big way. Keith Coogan was actually 17 at the time so he can play a teenager convincingly and not have to shine it on about how insecure teenagers really can be at that age. I should note that younger me thought Brad was really cute and like a little puppy dog now that I think about it with his big brown eyes and also was literally a fox because he voiced young Tod in Disney's The Fox And The Hound when he was just 11 years's that for a lamp-shading segue?

Keith Coogan as Brad Anderson: Former little girl crush

Okay so I might be a little harsh now because I am older but I really can't stand the character of Sara in this movie. I know she's only a kid and I'm not saying that little Maia Brewton was a bad actress and it's not geared towards her personally but just the character in general. She is kind of annoying most of the time, sometimes showing genuine  hints of concern and childish vulnerability but the character of Sara causes most of the trouble for the others one scene slightly but another in a very big way and I don't think it can even be boiled down to just being a kid and not knowing any better. There are a few other actors that appear in Adventures In Babysitting in smaller roles from the main cast but are worth mentioning.

How did Sara end up here? Answer: It's Brenda's fault!

Penelope Ann Miller I guess can be given the most credit since she is actually the reason our main characters get into the predicaments they do thanks to her character Brenda. We get some really good scenes that show off Miller's acting because when it comes to the comedic element, Penelope is a genius and oh my god I'm rolling on the floor laughing at how well I can imitate her shaky delivery! Despite portraying a comedic character, Penelope Ann Miller is also a very good dramatic actress so if you ever get a chance to see Carlito's Way or have already seen it you can take my word on that.

Penelope Ann Miller as Brenda , the character who ruins her best friend's night more than the boyfriend!

Other actors of note are George Newbern who appears in a small role (later kind of important...spoiler!) and if you remember I already talked a lit about him in my blog post on the film Doppelganger so I guess the last person I can mention is Vincent D'Onofrio. Oh yes Law And Order fans you should know who he is and if you really want to see a different side to him you should definitely check this film out! I could talk about his acting but I kind of want to save that for another film he stars in that I own sometime down the line and besides talking about his appearance here is a big kind of spoiler. Don't worry, D'Onofrio, you're time to shine will come I promise!

Could this night get any worse? Answer: Of course!

Sorry I've been out of the blogging scene for a bit and I'm going to need time to oil my rusty gears to get back to par but I hope you enjoyed my look back at one of the films of my childhood. Adventures In Babysitting is one of those PG-13 gems that I'm glad I got to see in my unhindered movie-viewing youth and it still gives me many laughs and smiles today. If you have yet to see it, I highly recommend you do and if you have, I hope it brought back good memories for you too!

NEXT TIME: I'll be back with a movie I view as being another little more mature family kind of film I had the pleasure of viewing in my youth and it is still one of the best films I have ever seen! So wish me luck because next blog we'll look back at Uncle Buck

1 comment:

  1. I first saw this movie at the theater when I was 18 and in the Navy. The scene where she's in the doorway at the frat house and kind of bats her eyes and goes "Well, that was good" reminded me so much of a young lady I had broken up with four months back that I saw the movie 4 times. The opening scene you mentioned was also a definite plus. If you look back 1987 was a GREAT year for movies.