In 2016, I completed two internships, graduated from college, traveled on a choir tour, and began my one and only year as a classroom teacher. In the midst of all that, I (regretfully) missed the 100th Disney Channel Original Movie and its accompanying marathon of previous DCOMs. For six years, I somehow continued to not watch the 100th DCOM, Adventures in Babysitting. But thanks to Disney+, now I have! It’s a remake of the 1987 film in which Elisabeth Shue played Chris Parker, the babysitter. Per RetroNewsNow, I learned that there was a CBS pilot for an Adventures in Babysitting series that did not get picked up. It had a similar premise, but different actors, including Joey Lawrence and Brian Austin Green! In the 2016 film, directed by John Schultz, there are two babysitters. Jenny Parker (Sabrina Carpenter) is a perfectionist with a spotless babysitting record. Lola Perez (Sofia Carson) is a messy free spirit who will be babysitting for the first time.
I watched both movies back to back out of curiosity. I had heard mixed reviews of the ’80s film, so I had my suspicions about both versions. Here are my pros of the ’87 Adventures in Babysitting: Chris Columbus directs, and I love his style. Also, Elisabeth Shue is a delight as Chris Parker — she opens the film dancing in her bedroom, she sings the blues in a Chicago bar while running from car thieves, and she rescues her best friend while she’s supposed to be babysitting. It’s a long night, and frankly, a night that makes me wonder how this movie is even on Disney+. Chris is sitting for a brother and sister. When she takes the kids with her to help her friend, the brother’s pal tags along, and when they all wind up at a college party, he has an inappropriate moment with a college student. He is a minor, and the student is an adult. Not cool. Needless to say, no such situation occurs in the 2016 DCOM version. There isn’t any car theft, either.
In the more recent film, Jenny and Lola are up for the same photography internship. After accidentally swapping phones (Stuck in the Suburbs, anyone?), Lola uses Jenny’s phone to get herself a babysitting gig and earn some much-needed money. The girls are babysitting two separate families, but they come together when Jenny realizes what Lola has done. Before they can clean up the mess where Lola is sitting (typical messy kitchen, overflowing washing machine), the babysitters must go downtown to retrieve one of the kids, who snuck out to attend a concert. Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Carson are great in the babysitter roles, but I’m not sure their rap battle scene works as well as Elisabeth Shue’s blues. Also, the ’80s car theft complication and ensuing chase were a little more interesting than the plot twist of 2016: a “Sapphire Ferret” in illegal captivity that gets away from a pawn shop owner and his sidekick.
It’s interesting to compare the personalities of the kids in each movie. In the ’80s, we have two teen boys who are infatuated with older women (their babysitter looks like the Playboy girl). The little sister is a classic superhero-obsessed kid who walks around wearing a Thor helmet. In 2016, the two families together make for a combined five kids. In the family Lola sits for, we have: the runaway boy at the concert, his younger brother (the budding chef), and a rollerblading little sister. In the family Jenny sits for: rebellious tween girl who dyes her hair without permission, and little sister/miniature pageant princess. Both movies have glimpses of wealthy parents at galas, and both include love interests for the babysitters. I enjoyed seeing George Newbern (aka Bryan Mackenzie from Father of the Bride) as the college guy who helps Chris in the original film. I just hope Chris is already 18. As for the remake, Jenny and a cute boy from high school get together, and slightly older Lola has a flirtation with a cop… Overall, I’m glad I watched both films on the same evening. I’ve added another ’80s movie to my repertoire, and I can tell you that the 2016 version is a solid 2010s DCOM.