I realized I’m at that age where I start to watch movies that bring me back to a time in my life that was different than it is now. As an example, seeing Jaws again made me think about why I love movies. Movies that came out in the 1980’s have really hit home with me recently. There's something about that period that brings up a lot of memories. 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting is one of those films that I fondly remember from that time. It’s a movie that seemed to have everything: comedy, excitement, danger, Thor, and Elizabeth Shue (I had such a crush on her).
Chris’s (Shue) adventure begins when, after being stood-up by her boyfriend for a date (his sister is sick), she is asked to babysit Sara, the world’s youngest female Thor worshiper. Her brother Brad, who secretly has a crush on Chris (don’t we all), was planning on staying overnight at a friend's, but instead stays home to gawk at Chris all night. Unfortunately, everyone’s plan goes bad when Chris’s friend Brenda runs away from home and is stuck in a bus station in downtown Chicago. So that Brenda’s parents don’t find out, Chris decides to drive into town from the suburbs to pick her up, bringing Sara, Brad and Daryl, Brad’s scheming friend who is certain that Chris is the March centerfold for Playboy. Everything seems good until their vehicle has a blow-out on the freeway going into town, they have no spare, and Chris left her purse at home. Luckily, they are picked up by a one handed tow truck driver named Mr. Pruitt, who offers to bring them into town and buy them a new tire.
Not bad, except Mr. Pruitt has marital issues and is informed that his wife is with another man. So, side trip to Pruitt’s house, where he pulls out a gun and starts shooting everywhere. The kids escape into a car that is being stolen by a kind hearted car thief. He takes them to his hide out, where the kingpin of the car theft ring is not kind hearted, in fact he wants the kids killed. Chris and the kids are able to escape, but not before Daryl steals the March issue of Playboy, which contains information that the kingpin needs.
So, Chris and the kids are being chased through Chicago as the criminals try to stop them. They infiltrate a blues club where they have to sing the blues to get out, get caught in the middle of a gang fight on a subway car, sneak their way into a fraternity party, thanks to a few guys thinking that Chris is Playboy’s Miss March. (Guess Daryl will pledge that fraternity). All of this is undercut with scenes of poor Brenda at the bus station, being harassed by all the strange, colorful characters who reside there. Finally, Chris arrives at the garage to get her car, and the mechanic is a dead ringer for Sara’s ultimate hero, Thor (Vincent D’Onofrio). Unfortunately, the criminals are still after the kids, which lead to a thrilling climax atop the Crain Communication Building in downtown Chicago.
It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Adventures in Babysitting, and it really shocked me how adult oriented the film was. It contains a few f-bombs, adult subject matter, violence, and kids in peril. Besides that, it is still a fun film to watch. Elizabeth Shue leads a great cast into the dark underbelly of downtown Chicago at night. It was interesting seeing Vincent D’Onofrio playing the muscular mechanic and Sara’s vision of Thor. That summer, D’Onofrio also played the mentally unstable private in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.
Director Christopher Columbus develops interesting and fun characters for Chris and her gang to deal with, as well as some harrowing situations. The film moves fairly quickly from situation to situation, with very little time to catch your breath in between. In a way, the movie reminds me of Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, where the main character is put through numerous issues and meets up with oddball characters over a nights time. All in all, Adventures in Babysitting is an entertaining film overall. It has a good mix of action and humor. And yes, it does have adventure.
Presented with a 1080p, MPEG-4 video codec, and an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Adventures in Babysitting is not a very impressive transfer onto Blu-ray, but it still looks better than it ever has. The image is soft throughout the entire film, with a mild amount of grain noticed. Skin tones look fairly good. The film takes place mostly at night, and the black levels are deep with fairly good shadow delineation. No artifact or edging noticed. Like I said, it looks good for its age.
The DTS-HD 5.1 transfer keeps nearly the entire audio track in the front channels. Very rarely did I hear anything come from the back surround speakers, and when I did, it was a very small amount of the score. The dialogue from the center channel is clear. Clarity from the side speakers is good, The LFE does offer some depths to the audio presentation, but mostly in the scenes with significant music. Directional Effects are simply non-existent.
The only extra on this disc is a preview for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Any other preview and I’d complain. But Roger Rabbit? Definitely a day one pick-up for me.
Adventures in Babysitting is a fun waste of a couple of hours. The film offers a field trip through the bad side of Chicago with some colorful characters. Elizabeth Shue delivers a breakout performance, and there are enough Thor references in the movie to make any comic book fan happy. The transfer to Blu-ray is not the greatest, but it’s still an improvement over what it has been. Although it seems like a fun family flick, it definitely earned its PG-13 rating (it was one F-bomb away from an R). So put the little ones to bed before popping this one in.