While we at Cinedelphia are all avid film buffs, there are many films that are held in high regard that we haven’t seen. As we cross them off our collective List of Shame, we’ll share our thoughts here! Despite been born in the mid-80s, I feel that I've done a pretty good job hitting most of the big films from that wonderful decade. Of course, some inevitably fell through the cracks, and at the urging of a coworker, I finally watched Adventures in Babysitting, aided by the fact that it is now on Netflix.
It's truly a fun little film, buoyed by the lovely Elizabeth Shue, who carries the entire film easily. She has so much charisma, and walks the line between being the innocent suburban girl in the city and the quick thinking babysitter trying to keep the younger kids from harm. Of course, Sara (Maia Brown) even seems like a downright progressive character, even for 2014, as the first ever female version of Marvel's Thor(!). The script treats the kids as smart, and the adults as variations on either wise, clueless or dumb, which is a dynamic I always enjoy.
Overall it has a very John Hughes feel, and the Chicago setting only adds to the feeling that these kids could live in the same neighborhood as the McCallisters and the Pages. It certainly has the Hughes trademark of being a not-quite wholesome family film, and the kind of PG-13 film that could not exist today. They use the word "fuck" twice in the film, which is currently not allowed by the MPAA, and we rarely get family films that aren't action films based on comics or toys anymore. Adventures in Babysitting is worth much more then just a nostalgia trip.
The other thing I noticed, especially while revisiting the classic Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles film from 1990, is the difference in how films portray the city. The sociological landscape has changed significantly, in part because of the crime rate drop. In Adventures in Babysitting, strangers and crime are the biggest threats, and in Ninja Turtles, the Foot Clan recruits kids for petty crimes. Now, we get films like Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, where the city, even New York, is a teenage playground, and never portrayed as outright dangerous. Not that there isn't crime, but it doesn't dominate the national conversation anymore, and its stamp on pop culture is much closer to Orange is the New Black than Hill Street Blues.
It's another reminder that films are time capsules, windows into the past, even when they remain timeless as entertainment.