After putting together our list of originals and remakes, Andrew and I realized that it had turned into quite a long list! Some of them are going to be too hard, maybe even impossible, to find (the original French version of True Lies, called La Totale!) and others will be interesting to watch in general because without even watching the remake, I can tell things will have changed drastically for one reason or another.
In the case of the remake and original I’ll be talking about today, I actually had no idea the remake even existed! So these two movies were not on our list to start with. Andrew and I happened to be walking in to our favorite local video store earlier this week when I saw the poster for the remake in the window.
“They’re going to remake Adventures in Babysitting?” I remember asking, for some reason not registering that they probably already remade it, hence the poster.
“Umm, I think they already did,” Andrew replied.
Not only did they remake this classic 80s movie, but it was a Disney made-for-TV movie. I could tell by looking at the back of the DVD case. The cutesy images and the Disney logos gave it away.
Curious about the remake, I added it to our list and our pile of movies to rent that day. When I mentioned that I was looking forward to seeing this remake of an 80s movie, the video store clerk remarked that he hadn’t seen either one yet, but that he wasn’t holding out hope that the Disney version would be that great. Not because it’s a made-for-TV movie (there are some awesome made-for-TV movies out there!) but because Disney was involved. And this guy does NOT like Disney. Cue anti-Disney rant from him as we checked out our movies.
I wasn’t holding out much hope either that the remake would be that great. I love the original in all its zaniness and 80sness (the hair! the music! the “Family Truckster” style car that Chris, the main character drives!). It’s definitely a ridiculous movie, but it’s fun to watch. A bit dark in places (it’s PG-13 for a reason!), but hey, that stuff doesn’t bother me. Realizing that Disney had remade this hard PG-13 movie, I imagined something aimed way more at younger kids than the original, which was clearly aimed at older kids. And since the remake is aimed at younger kids, I expected this newer version to be so squeaky clean that it could shine (no subplot about Chris, the main character, resembling that month’s Playboy Playmate of the Month, no jokes about homeless people shooting up, no instances of the “f” word, or one of the kids getting a knife in the foot).
I was right.
You can probably tell already which version Andrew and I liked better. Nonetheless, here’s what we thought of the original and remake. Because it is interesting to note the differences, since one was a rated PG-13 theatrical movie and the other was TV-G made-for-TV.
Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
I saw this for the first time in late high school during my big 80s phase. It wasn’t an enduring favorite but I did enjoy it for the sheer ridiculous but at least logical (well, sort of; far more logical than the remake!) plot.
Elizabeth Shue (best known now for playing on the original CSI) plays Chris Parker, your typical 80s teenager. She’s got the teased hair, long tan coat with shoulder pads, and a boyfriend. Speaking of the boyfriend, Mike, he bails on their anniversary dinner, so she takes a last-minute babysitting job with the Andersons and their two kids Sara (a major Thor fangirl who wears a winged helmet throughout the movie) and Brad. Brad is supposed to stay at his friend Daryl’s house for the night, but when he finds out Chris is babysitting, he stays at home because he’s got a major thing for Chris. Chris expects this to be an average night of babysitting, until she gets a call from her friend Brenda, who has run away from home, and is freaking out because she has no more money and she’s stuck at a Greyhound station in a bad area of Chicago. Brenda begs Chris to pick her up, so she gets the kids and Daryl, who’s come by the house, in her mom’s car and drives to the city.
Except she gets a flat tire on the way.
The tow truck they stop after they get a flat tire, driven by a “Handsome” John Pruitt, offers to drive them to his garage to help them fix the car. Then, John makes a detour to his house when he gets a call from his boss that his wife is “with that guy again,” so he can confront the guy. Pruitt accidentally shoots the windshield of Chris’ mom’s car when he was aiming for his wife’s lover. Chris and the kids hide in a nearby Cadillac, which is being carjacked, so they get taken to a garage and they discover a national stolen car ring. They’re detained in an office, from which they end up escaping, but not before Daryl swipes an issue of Playboy from that office, and then finding themselves in a blues club and having to sing before leaving, and then….
They end up in an L train with a gang (where Chris utters the immortal line “don’t $^&#*^ with the babysitter!”) and Brad gets a knife to the foot.
There’s a young Vincent D’Onofrio reminding Sara of her idol Thor.
They also end up at a frat party.
Oh and then the very party that the Andersons are attending, yet they are somehow never seen.
Chris and her boyfriend break up.
And they still make it back in time after picking up Brenda for the parents to arrive home.
Sure, the plot is a little ridiculous with everything they get into, but it’s fun to watch! It’s fun to watch these people try and figure out how they’re going to get home, all without the modern technology of using PayPal to get money for their car repairs or calling AAA to get towed, etc. And it is definitely rated PG-13 for a reason. Not that it really bothers me, but it should be noted, especially when you compare this to the remake. Characters joke about how much Chris resembles that month’s Playboy of the Month. Brenda is stuck with the dredges of society at a downtown Chicago bus station, so we see her verbally spar with a homeless guy who tells her to “get out of [his] house” while she’s talking to Chris in a phone booth. She also loses her glasses and thinks that a sewer rat is a kitten until some custodians tell her otherwise. All of it is told in a very 80s style, complete with the hairstyles, big cars, and not taking itself too seriously. If I had to use one word to describe this, it would be goofy. But goofy in a non-childish way.
Not an absolute new favorite but in terms of 80s movies, it’s up there.
Which brings me to the remake…..
Adventures in Babysitting (2016)
What I find most interesting about this remake in comparison to the original is that the 1987 original was the eighth PG-13 movie to be released by a Disney film division (Touchstone Pictures). So Disney had a hand in putting out that movie to people. They even wanted Chris Columbus, the director, to remove a line from the movie to make it more family-friendly. Yet it still came out as PG-13 to movie theaters.
I find that interesting because this remake, done entirely by Disney, was made even more family-friendly, much to the detriment of the story.
This remake was clearly TV-G. And you could tell.
It was as I feared.
Not as bad as I thought, but still, it was bad.
Like the original, you still have a set of zany adventures in the big city involving a babysitter and her charges. The kids get everyone home just in time. That part hasn’t changed.
However, everything else is different.
This time, we get to know two babysitters, Jenny Parker and Lola Perez, who are both rivals for a photography internship. Yes, in this remake, we have two babysitters to take Chris Parker’s place. Somehow they switch phones (this is 2016 after all) and Helen Anderson calls Jenny’s phone, begging for a last-minute sitter. Lola answers and is about to explain the mistake but when she gets a parking ticket, she figures she could use the extra money. Meanwhile, Jenny goes to the Coopers’ house to babysit and when they realize they’ve switched phones, Jenny travels to Lola to get her phone back. By then, one of the kids, Trey, has gone missing. He’s snuck out to a Psychic Rockets concert despite being grounded. So the girls team up to find him and they journey to a sketchy pawn shop to track him down because that’s where he bought the scalped tickets. One of the kids, Bobby, accidentally lets loose a rare ferret, which the girls take a picture of, and which sets into motion these pawn shop owners who spend the movie chasing them down because they could expose their illegal animal smuggling ring.
Many of the things they get into from there are even more ridiculous versions of the original. In a nod to the original, the girls and their charges end up on stage at a club and can’t escape without doing something musical. But instead of singing the blues, they have to engage in a rap battle. A scene that would’ve made sense if they had walked into a rap battle along the lines of 8 Mile instead of what it was: a typical EDM club. Everyone was listening to bland EDM music, not rap music. So making them rap at an EDM club made no sense except that the writers were bound by squeaky-clean Disney rules so they couldn’t have them walk into a rap battle, since rap battles are not family-friendly.
Since we have two babysitters in this version, we also get two sets of kids. Which makes things even more confusing because there are so many kids that you can’t tell who’s who. At least I couldn’t. And you don’t get to know them very well either. I did like that one of the younger kids Bobby is an aspiring chef and therefore loves to cook. But the others, I couldn’t tell you one from the other. They all have one thing to define their personality and nothing more. One of them loves to wear her mother’s jewelry (she also looks creepily like Jon Benet Ramsey). Another is a typical Hot Topic goth. And all of them get involved in all sorts of slapsticky antics that feel childish rather than goofy.
Speaking of slapstick, perhaps if this remake had not been released by Disney, this might’ve been better. But as it was, the writers seemed bound by two things:
1) This is a Disney movie so we need to make this as family-friendly as possible;
2) This is made-for-TV
Since this was Disney, the villains were turned into bumbling, cartoonish idiots that you weren’t scared of for one second. They reminded me of Horace and Jasper from 101 Dalmatians. They also included tons of slapstick gags with people always slipping and falling and the parents being too stupid to understand what’s going on. The writers seemed so bound by making it squeaky clean and making it a TV movie that the movie felt way too restrictive and it lost the goofy charm of the original movie. Instead, it was made ridiculous with way too many elements (there’s a subplot about Jenny’s crush, another about a cute dog who has to be kept as stress-free as possible, and a police officer who takes a liking to Lola).
Not a total waste of time, but it left me groaning more than laughing.
Andrew and I will take the original any day over this.