Quick Movie Review: Adventures In Babysitting (1987)

adventures babysitting

There’s something intangible about Elisabeth Shue that makes her so likable. Maybe it’s her down-to-earth, no frills charm, or the fact that she reminds us of someone we all knew in our lives growing up. While she never got close to the star power of Molly Ringwald in the ’80s, she definitely could have. Ringwald had John Hughes and a more distinct look. Shue didn’t have a starring role until 1987. Ringwald also looked (and was) younger, so she fit into those high school roles better. But at least Shue never got pigeonholed.

In Adventures In Babysitting, Shue does a terrific job as Chris Parker, the babysitter for 8-year-old Sara Anderson after her parents go to a company party for the evening. Sara’s older brother, Brad (Keith Coogan), is in love with Chris and decides to stay home for the night too.

When Chris’ best friend, Brenda, calls her up to say she’s in trouble after she runs away from home, Chris goes with the kids into the city to pick her up. Along the way, they face obstacle after obstacle, all starting with their car getting a flat tire.

What makes Adventures In Babysitting so great is that it’s actually really entertaining and well-put-together. The premise feels like it would be silly and juvenile, but it still feels fresh after 30 years. That’s how it surprises you. You expect it to be one thing–a porous story where not that much is ever really at stake. But then you end up watching something that’s smartly written and never predictable. A film of this nature should have tons of plot holes, but there aren’t many that stand out.

Along with Chris, the characters are really indelible and well-performed. Sara is played by Maia Brewton, who steals the show as the Thor-obsessed spunky 8-year-old who is cute without ever trying to be. And director Chris Columbus (in his directorial debut) always seems to capture her at her absolute best.

The villains are also well-written. The kids steal something that belongs to the owners off a chop shop. The men then spend the rest of the film trying to track down Chris and the kids. Columbus and the writers spend time creating depth and motives with the bad guys as well, when a lesser film would have just made them cookie-cutter archetypes.

Adventures In Babysitting may borrow from films of the past, but its dedication from the filmmakers, as well as its likable and consistent tone is what puts it above all of those.

Twizard Rating: 96

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Quick Movie Review: Spaceballs (1987)

spaceballs

As a kid I watched Spaceballs after hearing my friends spew quotes from the film. This was maybe around 2001 or so. I was a lifelong Star Wars fan and understood all of the references, but the jokes just weren’t as funny as I had anticipated. Clever, sure. But not enough to make me laugh out loud. As an adult rewatching it, I acknowledge that there are some creative moments, and can appreciate them a little bit more, but it’s still a far cry from the types of comedies on the market today. As parody films usually are.

It’s interesting though, that the things I found funniest then are different than the things I find funny now. And then there are things that I don’t find funn–neither now nor then.

I recognize that Mel Brooks is a comedic genius, but also realize that this particular film was towards the end of his run, which ultimately ended about 8 years later.

The movie is essentially a Star Wars parody, and although the plot is superfluous, I’ll give you a little bit. A planet, run by a Darth Vader spoof, plans on stealing another planet’s air supply in order to replenish their own, so a Han Solo-type character tries to stop them.

Spaceballs is the type of film that shows how far comedy has come. Though parodies don’t really make the cut anymore, in 1987 there was a market for them.

But still, this film is extremely dated. It’s a wacky, gimmick-filled script that’s mostly not that funny anymore–or at all. The comedy is sort of all over the place. Sometimes it’s reminiscent of some B-roll Monty Python, and other times shows some radiation from Airplane!, but it never quite sticks to one schtick.

Monty Python and Airplane! are funny if you grew up with them, and still find many new fans in today’s culture. Spaceballs doesn’t have as much luck.

But it’s visually and conceptually pleasing, even if the parody premise makes us less invested in the plot. The Star Wars themes and appealing set pieces allow it to be enjoyable anyway.

Rick Moranis is great as Lord Dark Helmet, and even despite antiquated humor, the jokes never fall flat because they’re always delivered with conviction and confidence–credit to Brooks and the talented cast that he’s assembled.

Twizard Rating: 76

Quick Movie Review: Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds In Paradise (1987)

revenge of the nerds 2

1984’s Revenge of the Nerds didn’t need a sequel. Everything gets accomplished in that movie. It could have stood alone as a piece of history. A treasured work of art that we could look back on and admire. In making a followup film, you risk losing the quality and integrity of the predecessor.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. Before sequels typically had any chance of being good, the filmmakers of Revenge of the Nerds decided to take this risk. While critics back then may have been less than pleased, true fans probably enjoyed seeing more nerds.

What makes Revenge of the Nerds so great isn’t only its goofy premise, but mostly its incredible characters. And when you like the characters, it makes an unnecessary sequel more justifiable.

However, these characters don’t always live up to their full potential in the sequel. Some fan-favorites from the first film are missing, and that messes with the dynamics a little.

Lewis and the rest of the nerds in the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity head to Florida for a national fraternity convention. They’re met with harsh adversity when their rivals in the jock fraternity get offended by how the nerds are ruining the cool vibe of the convention.

Their incentives aren’t exactly crystal-clear, but neither are they in previous film.

Fortunately, you can make a case that it’s even funnier than its predecessor. There are some bits that are even more clever, and less focus on sexcapades.

And in an unexpected twist, the film holds up just as well.

Twizard Rating: 82

Quick Movie Review: Predator (1987)

predator

Throughout much of the first half of this movie you start getting the feeling that it’s gonna be one of those films where the plot gets stretched way too thin and it becomes a yawnfest. While the former is still true, the latter goes away as soon as we get our first encounter with the monster. From then on we are wide awake and become invested in the outcome, while Predator turns into a pretty decent action-suspense film.

However, much of the dialogue is laughable and every time Arnold opens his mouth you have to shake your head.

Besides the impressive special effects and costume design, all of this film’s points come from the second half when the action starts rolling, as the Thomas brothers aren’t too competent at writing narrative.

Twizard Rating: 64

Quick Movie Review: Evil Dead II (1987)

While an improvement on its predecessor with a better backstory, I still found myself shaking my head quite often. Why is every character in these movies so annoying? They’re always acting dumb and irrational. And although some of you may argue it, I don’t think it’s as intentional as you think it is. I know this “sequel” is supposed to partially be a comedy but it evokes more eye rolling than laughter. Although I do appreciate a good slapstick, the gore is constantly taking away from whatever humor is being presented.

I’m still not on board with this series, however, the art and effects are still very impressive and I enjoyed the creative call-back ending.

Twizard Rating: 59

Dirty Dancing?! More like…..Stupid Dancing….

The year was 1987, and I bet you will never guess what film was number 1 in the U.S. box office…I bet you’re NOT guessing Three Men and a Baby. I sure know I wasn’t. Some of you may have said Beverly Hills Cop 2 or even Lethal Weapon…but really?! I mean, it’s a great movie–but REALLY?!?!  Ted Danson, Tom Selleck, and Steve Guttenberg adjusting to the hardships of fatherhood took the gold that year?!

Anyway,  I would like to say that fortunately, despite its “timeless” portrayal, Dirty Dancing didn’t even make the top 10 during such a slow year. And I am in no way saying that box office performance determines the quality of a film–but it does make me feel better about humanity.

Some of you may be wondering why I even decided to take time off my busy schedule to watch this film when I haven’t even seen Rocky yet. Welp, I can say with confidence that there is absolutely no rational reason why I did that.

So, let me tell you about the film. It takes place in 1963 and tells the story of a girl named Baby (Jennifer Grey) who is vacationing with her parents at a resort. She is very innocent and sees the world with a child-like view, and she is very close to her parents. However, while on vacation she meets this guy, Johnny (Patrick Swayze), whom she finds herself intrigued by. He is a dancer at the resort and she knows nothing about dancing or the ways of the world. Baby’s parents don’t like this Johnny guy or his “influence” on her. The story goes on with them falling in love and him teaching her how to dance and so on.

I was not impressed. Not once did I crack even a smile throughout the duration of this movie. It takes itself way too seriously, and it’s predictable the whole way through. However, I do have to say that the character development was good and Swayze’s performance was on par.

But now, moving on to the thing that REALLY irked me….the movie takes place in 1963–so it needs to stop playing music from 1987!! I wish this film would decide what decade it wants to be in! I mean, despite it being predictable and all that, I could have felt SOME sort of nostalgia while watching it if it actually made me feel like I was in a particular era! And I suppose I would have been fine with one or two 80’s songs as part of the soundtrack, but they used at least 3 of them as actual source music! As in, they were DANCING to it!! In a film about dancing in the 60’s and how the times were-a-changin’ in the 60’s, one would think that they wouldn’t be dancing to 80’s music! They should have just thrown in some disco to complete chronology!

So I did some research after I finished the film (as I usually do after watching movies) to see if other critics shared my sentiment about this whole music ordeal. To my surprise, I found no mention of it. I must be going crazy!

This movie was supposed to be released for one weekend only and then go straight to video. Why does this film have such positive reviews?! I don’t get it. It makes me upset!

 Just don’t let its “legendary” status fool you, folks!

And to those of you who love this movie, I guess I forgive you…