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Featured Blu-ray Review: Adventures in Babysitting

August 4th, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Adventures in Babysitting came out 25 years ago. Wow. Has it really been that long? This film was not a big hit when it first came out in theaters; it only once reached the top five. However, it has developed a more loyal following on the home market and there's a heavy amount of nostalgia associated with this film. This week, it makes its Blu-ray debut, but has it aged well? Is it still entertaining? And how does it look / sound on high definition?

The Movie

The film begins with Chris Parker preparing for her big date with Mike, her boyfriend. However, he has to cancel, because his little sister is sick and he has to babysit that night when his parents are gone. After getting some less than helpful consoling from her best friend, Brenda, Chris agrees to babysit for Mrs. Anderson's two kids, Brad and Sara (Maia Brewton). It should be a rather boring evening of babysitting. Granted, Brad has a serious crush on Chris, while Sara is obsessed with Thor, but this isn't anything more than quirks and nothing to be worried about. Even when Brad's best friend, Darryl shows up, it still promises to be a dull night.

That changes when Brenda calls. Brenda ran away from home, but now she's stuck in the bus station in downtown Chicago with no money and nowhere to go. She calls Chris hoping Chris can pay for a cab if she heads to the Anderson's place. She can't; she doesn't have the money. So she asks Chris to come pick her up. Of course Chris is babysitting and can't leave the kids, but when Brenda mentions there's someone there with a gun, she says she'll be on her way. Brad and Sara refuse to be left behind, and, a little bit of blackmail later, all three of them are on their way to Chicago.

As you can imagine, this simple plan backfires, nearly immediately. They are not even able to make it to Chicago before a flat tire leaves them stranded on the side of the road. Here's where we start to run into spoiler territory. The fact that their simple trip to pick up Brenda goes wrong shouldn't be a spoiler for anyone. After all, if the trip went smoothly, there would be no movie. However, the details are all spoilers, so I'll have to end the plot summary there.

The film works, for the most part. It does rely on a healthy suspension of disbelief, because the perils thrown at Chris and the kids quickly become ludicrous. Getting a flat tire and being rescued by a kind tow-truck driver is perfectly acceptable. Getting involved with a car theft ring, gangs shootouts, and more was a little hard to believe. Paradoxically, while some of the adventures they get into are too much, the overall plot is rather predictable. When Mike cancels the date, you know Chris will run into him later that evening and he will have lied about his sick little sister. Fortunately, Elizabeth Shue has enough charm that she is able to speed the movie along. Overall it is a fun, but lightweight movie. If you saw it back when it first came out, then it will have a lot of nostalgia going for it.

On a side note, I cringed when I saw Mike's car and especially his license plate, "So Cool" I knew his character was supposed to be a douche, but I thought that was overplaying it and they should have been more subtle about it. Then I read on Wikipedia that they used Bradley Whitford's real car with his actual license plate.

The Extras

Sadly, there are no extras on the Blu-ray. Also, the film is showing its age. It only cost $7 million to make back in 1987, which is about $20 million today, given inflation, which would be low compared to the average Hollywood release. There are times when the level of details is strong, but it is inconsistent. There are scenes, especially darker scenes, where there is a lot of grain. The colors are good, but not great, and the same can be said of the contrast. The audio is very clear, but very uncomplicated. There are a few pans here and there, but that's the extent of the dynamics. It is reasonably priced at $13.

The Verdict

Adventures in Babysitting is being released on a featureless Blu-ray, which is a real shame, as it is the 25th anniversary of the film's original theatrical release. I would have loved a retrospective, audio commentary, interviews, something. The price is right, but I'm always willing to pay more to get more.

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Filed under: Video Review, Adventures in Babysitting