Directed by Chris Columbus
Written by David Simpkins
Starring Elizabeth Shue, Maia Brewton, Keith Coogan, Anthony
Rapp, Calvin Levels, Vincent D’Onofrio, Penelope Ann Miller, Bradley Whitford, Ron Canada, Albert Collings
Chris Columbus has established himself with a long list of blockbusters like Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, and the first two Harry Potter films. But every director has to start somewhere, and Columbus got his directing start with a clever little film about an evening gone wrong, Adventures in Babysitting.
Chris Parker (Elizabeth Shue) is planning for a big date with her boyfriend Mike (Bradley Whitford), when Mike cancels. Disappointed, she takes a job babysitting Sara Anderson (Maia Brewton)** and her brother Brad (Keith Coogan***). who has a crush on her. After Brad’s friend Daryl (Anthony Rapp) comes over, Chris gets an urgent phone call from her friend Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller), who is stuck at the bus station. Chris goes to rescue them with the kids in tow.
They get a flat tire, Chris has no money, and they get in the middle of a fight between a husband and wife, with a shotgun blowing out the windshield.
Then things get complicated.
There are many great moments in the film, as things go from bad to worse and killers end up on their trail. What sticks out the most for me is when the wander into a blues club. Crossing the stage, they are stopped by blues legend Albert Collins, who says “Nobody leave this place without singing the blues.” The result is Babysitting Blues, a pure delight.
All of the performances are charming. It’s a comedy, so the dangers are all over the top, but you can’t help but like Chris and the kids. The script keeps loading on surprises and twists, making it it a joy to watch.
*Over ten years ago, I did a blog entry on Only the Lonely.
**Who is a big fan of the Mighty Thor, wearing a replica of his helmet. Evidently, the producers wanted to use a Marvel character, and Marvel didn’t want them to use anyone important, so they offered up Thor.
***Grandson of Jackie Coogan