Adventures in Babysitting

Adventures in Babysitting (1989, Joel Zwick)

Given the abundance of terrible television sitcoms, seeing what kind doesn’t make it past pilot stage should be interesting. But it’s not. “Adventures in Babysitting” is a semi-sequel to the movie–with David Simkins, the original writer, co-writing the pilot. It recasts every role.

It’s fairly clear why “Babysitting” didn’t make it to series, though mixing a sitcom with “Double Dare” in front of a live studio audience isn’t necessarily a terrible premise.

Lead Jennifer Guthrie is awful and unlikable. Brian Austin Green and Joseph Lawrence play the rambunctious teenagers. Green’s worse than Lawrence, which isn’t a compliment to Lawrence in any way. Ariana Mohit’s awful as Guthrie’s friend, but not as wholly unlikable.

The only good performances are Courtney Peldon as the Thor obsessed eight year old and Art Evans (who’s able to deliver the terrible lines wonderfully) as Mohit’s boss.

“Babysitting” is a horrific eighties curiosity.


Directed by Joel Zwick; screenplay by Greg Antonacci and David Simkins, based on characters created by Simkins; director of photography, Mikel Neiers; edited by Ed Cotter; music by Dan Foliart and Howard Pearl; executive producer, Antonacci.

Starring Jennifer Guthrie (Chris Parker), Joseph Lawrence (Brad Anderson), Courtney Peldon (Sara Anderson), Brian Austin Green (Daryl Coopersmith), Ariana Mohit (Brenda), Susan Blanchard (Joanna Anderson), Dennis Howard (Robert Anderson), Rocky Giordani (Vince), Jason Tomlins (Rick) and Art Evans (Mr. Dukeman).

Adventures in Babysitting (1987, Chris Columbus)

If it weren’t for the acting, Adventures in Babysitting would probably be more interesting as a cultural document than anything else. The way the film treats race is probably worth a couple sociology articles. Black people aren’t scary as much as foreign beyond belief. Space aliens would have more in common with the suburban kids than the room of black people they find themselves in a room with. Working class whites, actually, are far more scary.

So I guess, as a Chicagoland filmmaker, Chris Columbus is less racist than mentor John Hughes. Spielberg must have rubbed off on Columbus a little.

The film’s finely acted. Elisabeth Shue’s great in the lead. As her charges, Maia Brewton, Keith Coogan and Anthony Rapp are all good. Brewton and Coogan are sort of best (Coogan has some rather difficult scenes). Calvin Levels is excellent as the car thief who helps them out, as is John Ford Noonan as the first scary guy they meet. George Newbern and Bradley Whitford are both good as Shue’s romantic interests, though Whitford’s got more to do.

In the film’s silliest role, Vincent D’Onofrio has a hard time not laughing.

Penelope Ann Miller starts out strong, but the film eventually requires everyone to laugh at her and dismiss her as silly. Otherwise, she has some of the strongest line deliveries.

John Davis Chandler is weak as the lame villain.

Columbus does a better job with actors than composing shots.

Babysitting‘s moderately amusing, its parts stronger than the whole.



Directed by Chris Columbus; written by David Simkins; director of photography, Ric Waite; edited by Fredric Steinkamp and William Steinkamp; music by Michael Kamen; production designer, Todd Hallowell; produced by Debra Hill and Lynda Obst; released by Touchstone Pictures.

Starring Elisabeth Shue (Chris Parker), Maia Brewton (Sara Anderson), Keith Coogan (Brad Anderson), Anthony Rapp (Daryl Coopersmith), Calvin Levels (Joe Gipp), Vincent D’Onofrio (Dawson), Penelope Ann Miller (Brenda), George Newbern (Dan Lynch), John Ford Noonan (Handsome John Pruitt), Bradley Whitford (Mike Todwell), Ron Canada (Graydon) and John Davis Chandler (Bleak).

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