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For, Friday, July 1, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the recent TV-movie remake of “Adventures in Babysitting” for the Disney Channel having been released on DVD last week, it’s time to take a look back at the original film. This is my July 1, 1987, Deseret News review. It should be noted that filmmaker Chris Columbus went on to direct many popular comedies, including the first two “Home Alone” farces, as well as the first two “Harry Potter” movies. Elisabeth Shue — who was 24 when she played the teenage babysitter here — went on to earn an Oscar nomination for “Leaving Las Vegas” and joined the cast of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” for the show’s last four seasons.

“Adventures in Babysitting” marks the directing debut of Chris Columbus, screenwriter for several Steven Spielberg-produced projects — “Gremlins,” “The Goonies” and “Young Sherlock Holmes.”

And he may turn into a terrific comedy director one day, as “Babysitting” exhibits a great sense of comic timing in several individual scenes.

But the film as a whole … Well, that’s another matter.

Elizabeth Shue (Ralph Macchio’s girlfriend in “The Karate Kid”) stars as a 17-year-old girl who unwillingly finds herself babysitting. She’s prepared to spend the evening quietly watching television, but a phone call comes from a desperate friend who is stuck in a downtown Chicago bus depot.


Elisabeth Shue sings the blues in 'Adventures in Babysitting.'

There is also a pointless subplot about Shue being constantly mistaken for a Playmate of the Month.

One of the nicer aspects of “Babysitting” is its genuinely sweet nature, with the idea that these suburban kids find inner-city people to be less threatening than they had imagined.

All the performers are endearing, in particular Calvin Levels as the car thief. And there are some hilarious set pieces, especially a scene in a blues bar where they are told, “Nobody gets out of here without singing the blues.”

So she packs up her charges — a precocious little girl (Maia Brewton), along with the girl’s older brother (Keith Coogan) and his best friend (Anthony Rapp). And before you can say “Risky Business,” they have run into a trucker with a hook for a hand, a car thief who quietly takes them under his wing, and a ring of hoods that threatens their lives.


Elisabeth Shue and her charges in 'Adventures in Babysitting'

But they are skits that work in a longer tapestry that is rather frayed.

“Adventures in Babysitting” is rated PG-13 for violence, profanity and vulgarity.