Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

PG-13 | 99 mins | Comedy | 1 July 1987

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HISTORY

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Anagha Kulkarni, a student at University of Washington, Seattle, with Jennifer Bean as academic advisor.

Adventures in Babysitting marked the feature film directorial debut of Chris Columbus, a protégé of director Steven Spielberg who had written scripts for Spielberg projects including Gremlins (1984, see entry) and The Goonies (1985, see entry). An 18 Dec 1986 HR brief stated that Columbus read more than one hundred scripts over the course of two years and chose the film as his directing debut because the story “was on a small enough scale that [he] felt comfortable with it.” According to production notes from AMPAS library files, the film also marked feature motion picture debuts for writer David Simkins and actors Keith Coogan, Anthony Rapp, and Maia Brewton. Albert Collins, a famous blues musician, also made his acting debut playing an uncredited role as the blues band singer. The film was the first feature motion picture to be produced by Lynda Obst and Debra Hill’s production company, Hill/Obst Productions.
       According to a 14 Jun 1987 LAT news item, Obst and Hill first brought the project to Paramount Pictures, under a “first right of refusal” deal, and Paramount turned it down. Obst stated that the studio would only finance the film if actress Molly Ringwald starred, saying it lacked commercial appeal otherwise. Later, Touchstone Pictures came aboard to produce, and the film received financing from a $300 million fund provided to the Walt Disney Company by Silver ... More Less

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Anagha Kulkarni, a student at University of Washington, Seattle, with Jennifer Bean as academic advisor.

Adventures in Babysitting marked the feature film directorial debut of Chris Columbus, a protégé of director Steven Spielberg who had written scripts for Spielberg projects including Gremlins (1984, see entry) and The Goonies (1985, see entry). An 18 Dec 1986 HR brief stated that Columbus read more than one hundred scripts over the course of two years and chose the film as his directing debut because the story “was on a small enough scale that [he] felt comfortable with it.” According to production notes from AMPAS library files, the film also marked feature motion picture debuts for writer David Simkins and actors Keith Coogan, Anthony Rapp, and Maia Brewton. Albert Collins, a famous blues musician, also made his acting debut playing an uncredited role as the blues band singer. The film was the first feature motion picture to be produced by Lynda Obst and Debra Hill’s production company, Hill/Obst Productions.
       According to a 14 Jun 1987 LAT news item, Obst and Hill first brought the project to Paramount Pictures, under a “first right of refusal” deal, and Paramount turned it down. Obst stated that the studio would only finance the film if actress Molly Ringwald starred, saying it lacked commercial appeal otherwise. Later, Touchstone Pictures came aboard to produce, and the film received financing from a $300 million fund provided to the Walt Disney Company by Silver Screen Partners III, as reported in a 3 Feb 1987 WSJ news item.
       Production notes stated that an extensive search for talent took place in Dallas, TX; Florida; New York; Toronto, Canada; Chicago, IL; and Los Angeles, CA. Elisabeth Shue, a student at Harvard University at the time, was chosen to play her first lead role in a motion picture as “Chris” after 150 actresses auditioned for the part.
       An 18 Dec 1986 HR news brief announced that filming would begin 5 Jan 1987 in Toronto. After six weeks there, the production moved to Chicago, IL, and later shot some special effects sequences in Los Angeles. To make certain locations double for Chicago, production designer Todd Hallowell added garbage to the streets of Toronto; however, since Toronto’s garbage collecting system was so efficient, certain crew members were made to guard the trash from being removed by city workers. Hallowell also headed up the reconstruction of Chicago’s Associates Center in Toronto, recreating two of the building’s forty stories and replicating the Chicago skyline with a “20 X 40” Translight backdrop. For the scene in which Sara dangles from the side of the Associates Center, a harness and pulley system was used to simulate the “illusion of Brewton being suspended 40 stories up in the air” when the actress was no more than twelve feet from the ground. Other scenes filmed in Toronto included the fraternity party and bus station sequences. In Chicago, locations included: the El-train, where the Chicago Transit Authority shut down a track for several nights; Fitzgerald’s nightclub; Lower Wacker Drive; the Chicago Expressway; and a lookout spot with a panoramic view of the city called “Wolfepoint Landing.”
       Using “Panavision’s latest high-tech platinum camera,” director of photography Ric Waite stated that he used lighting and filming techniques typical of a drama rather than a comedy to emphasize the story’s sense of surprise and unpredictability.
       A 22 Jun 1987 HR article stated that sneak previews of the film took place on 470 screens two weeks prior to its opening. Though Disney was confident Adventures in Babysitting would be a box-office success based on audience reactions at previous screenings, the previews were used to promote word-of-mouth since the film lacked “big stars or a famous director.” Also indicating that the studio predicted the film would be a hit, a 16 Jun 1987 DV item announced that Hill/Obst Productions had signed “an exclusive long-term agreement” with Walt Disney Studios and would move their offices from Paramount to the Walt Disney lot as part of the deal.
       The general release occurred 1 Jul 1987 on roughly 1,100 screens. Though the first week’s box-office earnings were unimpressive, word-of-mouth helped the film take off shortly thereafter, according to a 15 Jul 1987 HR item that stated box-office “was up 45% for the weekend.” The film ultimately took in $34 million in box-office receipts, as stated in a 27 May 2005 DV news brief.
       Critical reception for the film was mixed. Simkin’s script was cited as weak in the 22 Jun 1987 DV , 1 Jul 1987 LAT , and 1 Jul 1987 NYT reviews, while Columbus’s direction and Shue’s performance were generally praised. The filmmakers’ portrayal of African-American characters was largely criticized, according to a 12 Jul 1987 LAT article. John H. Richardson of LADN claimed that the characters’ fearful response to the black city-dwellers portrayed in the film seemed to mirror the filmmakers’ “naivete,” and Elvis Mitchell of the Detroit Free-Press described the film’s apparent theme as, “White kids should remain in the warm, velvety womb of the suburbs. When they enter the city, they encounter terror…coming mostly from one-dimensional blacks.” In response to allegations that the film promoted racism, Albert Collins’s manager, Bruce Iglauer, wrote a letter to LAT on 26 Jul 1987, stating that both he and Collins believed the movie depicted race relations in a positive light, pointing out that Collins’s character, a black blues singer, protected the protagonists from their pursuers, both white and black, by stopping them onstage and demanding a performance. Iglauer also cited the filmmakers’ choice to hire Collins and a backing band of “real Chicago blues musicians” instead of actors as an example of their good intentions.
       A remake of the film was announced in the 27 May 2005 DV brief, to be produced by Lynda Obst and Walt Disney Pictures, with a script set to be written by Hilary Galanoy and Elizabeth Hackett. An online Var article posted 1 Apr 2007 reported that Tiffany Paulsen was brought onto the project as a writer, and actresses Miley Cyrus and Raven Symoné were attached to star. As of Jul 2012, the proposed remake has not gone into production.
       End credits contain a "Special Thanks" to The Associates Center, The Illinois Film Commission, and The Ontario Film Development Corporation; the aforementioned acknowledgements are followed by the written statements: "Also Thank You to Stacey Sher, Raja Gosnell, and Haig Manoogian," and "'The Mighty Thor'™ © 1987 Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc., all rights reserved." More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Jun 1987.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1987.
---
Daily Variety
27 May 2005.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1987
p. 3, 33.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Jun 1987
Calendar section, p. 29.
Los Angeles Times
1 Jul 1987
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
12 Jul 1987
Calendar section, p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jul 1987
Section K, p. 63.
New York Times
1 Jul 1987
p. 24.
Variety
24 Jun 1987
p. 13.
Variety
1 Apr 2007.
---
WSJ
3 Feb 1987.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Debra Hill and Lynda Obst Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Prod mgr
Unit prod mgr, Chicago
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, Chicago
2d asst dir
2d asst dir, Chicago
3d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam op
1st asst cam op
2d asst cam op
2d asst cam op
2d asst cam op
Gaffer
Gaffer, Chicago
Best boy
Best boy, Chicago
Best boy, Chicago
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Grip, Chicago
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Scenic artist
COSTUMES
Ward supv
Ward asst
MUSIC
Mus ed
Supv mus ed
Addl orch
Mus supv
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
ADR ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Dolby stereo consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Mattes by
Visual eff by
Opticals
Main title des
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Hair stylist
Make-up artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting asst
Addl casting
Casting Canada
Extras casting Canada
Loc mgr
Loc mgr, Chicago
Asst loc mgr
Asst to Ms. Hill
Asst to Mr. Columbus
Prod coord
Scr supv
Video playback
Transportation capt, Chicago
Transportation coord
Prod auditor
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
SOURCES
SONGS
"Babysitting Blues," words by Mark Mueller, music by Robert Kraft, produced by Robert Kraft, performed by Albert Collins, courtesy of Alligator Records
"Then He Kissed Me," words and music by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector, performed by The Crystals, courtesy of Spector International Records
"Expressway to Your Heart," words and music by Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, produced by Robert Kraft, performed by Southside Johnny and the Jukes
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SONGS
"Babysitting Blues," words by Mark Mueller, music by Robert Kraft, produced by Robert Kraft, performed by Albert Collins, courtesy of Alligator Records
"Then He Kissed Me," words and music by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector, performed by The Crystals, courtesy of Spector International Records
"Expressway to Your Heart," words and music by Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, produced by Robert Kraft, performed by Southside Johnny and the Jukes
"Future in Your Eyes," words and music by John Lyon and Robin Batteaux, produced by Robert Kraft, performed by Southside Johnny and the Jukes
"Twenty Five Miles," words and music by Johnny Bristol, Edwin Starr and Harvey Fuqua, performed by Edwin Starr, courtesy of Motown Records
"Evil (Is Going on)
" words and music by Willie Dixon, performed by Koko Taylor, courtesy of Alligator Records
"The Brady Bunch Theme," words by Sherwood Schwartz, music by Frank DeVol, performed by The Brady Bunch, courtesy of Paramount Pictures
"What Does It Take (To Win Your Love?)," words and music by Johnny Bristol, Vernon Bullock and Harvey Fuqua, performed by Jr. Walker, courtesy of Motown Records
"Just Can't Stop," words and music by Barry Goldberg and Jay Gruska, produced by Jay Gruska, performed by Percy Sledge
"Albert's Smokin' Ice," written and produced by Robert Kraft, performed by Albert Collins, courtesy of Alligator Records
"Gimme Shelter," words and music by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, performed by The Rolling Stones, courtesy of ABKCO Music and Records, Inc.
"Real Wild Child," words and music by John O'Keefe, John Greenan and David Owens, performed by Iggy Pop, courtesy of A&M Records
"Blues Had a Baby and They Named It Rock-N-Roll," words and music by Morganfield-McGhee, performed by Muddy Waters, courtesy of CBS Records
"Bring It on Home to Me," words and music by Sam Cooke (ABKCO Music), performed by Sam Cooke, courtesy of RCA Records.
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DETAILS
Release Date:
1 July 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 July 1987
Production Date:
5 January--early March 1987
Copyright Claimant:
Touchstone Pictures, a.a.d.o. the Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
24 June 1987
Copyright Number:
PA327701
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Platinum Panaflex® camera and lenses by Panavision®; Prints by De Luxe®
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28566
SYNOPSIS

In a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, seventeen-year-old Chris Parker learns that her boyfriend, Mike Todwell, must cancel their date to take care of his sick sister. Freed up for the night, Chris reluctantly agrees to a babysitting job at the Andersons’ home. When Chris arrives, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson inform her that they are going to a party downtown, and Brad, their fifteen-year-old, will be spending the night at a friend Daryl Coopersmith’s house; thus, she will only be taking care of eleven-year-old Sara, who is obsessed with the superhero “Thor.” Brad, who has a crush on Chris, ignores Daryl when he arrives outside the house, choosing to stay with Chris and Sara instead. Soon after the Andersons leave, Chris receives a phone call from her friend, Brenda, who has run away from home to a bus station downtown. Scared, Brenda begs Chris to pick her up, as she does not have any money for a taxicab. Though Chris is not allowed to drive her mother’s car into the city, she agrees, asking Brad to watch Sara while she’s gone. Brad and Sara refuse, insisting that Chris take them with her, and on their way out, Daryl appears and threatens to tell Brad and Sara’s parents that Chris drove them into the city if he is not allowed to join as well. Chris obliges, ushering Daryl into the car. As they head into the city, Daryl pulls the latest edition of Playboy from inside his jacket, excited to show Brad that the centerfold model looks exactly like Chris. Embarrassed, Brad flings the magazine out the window, upsetting Daryl ... +


In a suburb of Chicago, Illinois, seventeen-year-old Chris Parker learns that her boyfriend, Mike Todwell, must cancel their date to take care of his sick sister. Freed up for the night, Chris reluctantly agrees to a babysitting job at the Andersons’ home. When Chris arrives, Mr. and Mrs. Anderson inform her that they are going to a party downtown, and Brad, their fifteen-year-old, will be spending the night at a friend Daryl Coopersmith’s house; thus, she will only be taking care of eleven-year-old Sara, who is obsessed with the superhero “Thor.” Brad, who has a crush on Chris, ignores Daryl when he arrives outside the house, choosing to stay with Chris and Sara instead. Soon after the Andersons leave, Chris receives a phone call from her friend, Brenda, who has run away from home to a bus station downtown. Scared, Brenda begs Chris to pick her up, as she does not have any money for a taxicab. Though Chris is not allowed to drive her mother’s car into the city, she agrees, asking Brad to watch Sara while she’s gone. Brad and Sara refuse, insisting that Chris take them with her, and on their way out, Daryl appears and threatens to tell Brad and Sara’s parents that Chris drove them into the city if he is not allowed to join as well. Chris obliges, ushering Daryl into the car. As they head into the city, Daryl pulls the latest edition of Playboy from inside his jacket, excited to show Brad that the centerfold model looks exactly like Chris. Embarrassed, Brad flings the magazine out the window, upsetting Daryl who stole it from his father. On the freeway, Chris gets a flat tire. Realizing that she left her purse and wallet at home and there is no spare tire, she panics, but a tow truck appears, and a man named John Pruitt offers help. At first, Pruitt scares the group because he has a hook in place of one of his hands, but they decide to ride with him to a nearby garage where he agrees to tow the car and repair the tire for free. On the way, Pruitt gets word that another man has been spotted at his house, possibly having an affair with his wife. In a fit of rage, he reroutes to surprise his wife at home, and finding the other man there, begins to beat him. Chris and the children watch from the truck as the man tries to escape and Pruitt shoots at him. Errant bullets hit the side of the truck and the windshield of Chris’s car, and she and the others escape, seeking refuge in another car down the street. As Chris orders the others to lock their doors, a car thief named Joe Gipp appears in the driver’s seat and starts the car. Frightened, Chris asks Joe to drop them off at the next block, but he refuses, warning that they are in a bad neighborhood. Joe promises to drive them to safety after he takes care of some business, delivering the car to a warehouse full of other stolen cars. Joe’s boss, Graydon, reprimands him for bringing children to the building and orders him to lock them in an upstairs office. There, Sara suggests they climb through a hole in the ceiling and walk across a catwalk to an open window to escape. Before they leave, Daryl grabs a copy of the latest Playboy to replace his father’s. Meanwhile, Graydon’s accomplice, Bleak, asks for a set of notes that were written on the magazine, and Graydon discovers that the Playboy and the children are missing when he searches upstairs. Bleak, Graydon, and Joe chase after the children, who sneak into another building through an alleyway and find themselves on the stage of a blues bar. The band’s singer tells Chris they cannot leave without singing the blues. Luckily, as the band plays a backing track, Chris and the children manage to string a tune together about their adventures so far, and the audience applauds. Bleak, Graydon, and Joe arrive but do not interrupt the performance. After their song, Chris and the kids escape and jump onto a train at the last minute. As they ride away, however, they are caught in the middle of a fight between two street gangs. Intervening in the conflict to impress Chris, Brad is stabbed in the toe. At the next stop, they rush to the hospital where Brad receives one stitch. There, Chris sees Pruitt, who apologizes for damaging her windshield and tells her that he’s had it replaced at Dawson’s garage, where she’ll need to pay fifty dollars for the new tire. After Brad is released, the group runs from the hospital to avoid making a payment and comes across a college fraternity party on their way to Dawson’s Garage. There, Chris meets Dan Lynch and shares her troubles with him. Dan offers to help, asking his fraternity brothers for cash and procuring forty-five dollars to pay for Chris’s tire. When Chris offers Mr. Dawson the money, however, he refuses to accept less than fifty dollars. Sara, who assumes that the tall, intimidating man is actually Thor, the superhero, reminds him that he is supposed to help people in trouble and offers him her toy helmet as a gift. Touched by Sara’s gesture, Dawson returns the car. On the road, Chris points out the restaurant where she was supposed to have dinner with Mike, and Daryl notices Mike’s car parked outside. Stopping in, Chris finds Mike on a date with another girl and demands an explanation. Mike brushes her off, and Brad and Daryl come to Chris’s defense. Meanwhile, Sara sneaks outside, and Bleak and Graydon, still tailing them, chase after her, causing Sara to run to a nearby skyscraper where she knows her parents’ party is taking place. When they discover Sara has disappeared, Chris and the boys head to the skyscraper as well. Though Sara takes the elevator to the wrong floor, Graydon finds her there, prompting her to escape through an open window pane. Seeing her dangling on the side of the building, Graydon climbs out himself. In search of Sara, Chris steals a fur coat and uses it as a disguise to enter the party where the Andersons are. Spotting Sara through a window, Chris, Brad, and Daryl rush to the roof and throw a rope down to rescue her. Joe finds Chris and the others as they are about to leave and tells them that Bleak and Graydon only want the copy of Playboy that Daryl stole. They return the magazine and leave to pick up Brenda. Heading back to the suburbs, Chris spots the Andersons’ car on the freeway and speeds ahead, barely beating them home. After Chris tells the kids goodbye, she walks outside to find Dan Lynch, returning a pair of Sara’s roller-skates that have the Andersons’ address written on them. As Brad and Sara watch from a window upstairs, Chris and Dan kiss. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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