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: The Unauthorized Full House Story (2015)

full house story

Full House is one of my favorite television shows of all time. The nostalgia that exudes from the screen every time I watch it is almost unparalleled. But when making a Lifetime movie about all that happened behind-the-scenes, you have to expect a below average product.

Honestly, I didn’t hate it. The made-for-TV-movie happens to hit on what Full House was all about for their audience–escaping our lives temporarily to watch a family that we knew would make it all work out in the end. Full House was far from a technically superb show, but America loved it for some strange reason. It spoke to us, and it had it’s own distinct character to it.

But other than fans watching their childhood being made significant with the production of a “biopic”, this film is poorly made, thus written off as laughable.

While hardly scratching the surface, The Unauthorized Full House Story gives little depth to what happened off-camera. It provides necessary details of what occurred over a 10 year period for nearly a dozen characters, but doesn’t make the conflicts mean anything.

But honestly, I don’t think that’s what is making people write this one off. I think it’s the fact that every little missed detail is annoyingly distracting us from becoming convinced of this world that the filmmakers have created. We want to get sucked in and experience all the happenings of the people we so fondly grew up with. And that’s what a biopic is all about–being convinced. But the main actors–other than the girl who played the young Candice Cameron–were ever so inaccurate with their portrayals. Bob Saget comes off as whiny, John Stamos appears to be a prude, and the Olsen twins aren’t nearly as precocious as they were famously known to be. We have a hard time imagining the actors playing the characters, therefore taking away from the “magic” that is supposed to be present here. In fact, after lines were delivered, I spent a lot of time stopping to imagine the actual person saying them.

Also, almost nothing about this film feels like it’s set in the ’80s or ’90s. From the first scene, when we see a pre-fame Saget delivering jokes in a comedy club, the camera flashes to the audience who is dressed as if it were 2015. At least make us FEEL like we’re there!

But let’s face it, most likely we’re not going to get a feature film biopic directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring a handful of household names. This is pretty much as good as we’re going to get outside of an actual documentary or the followup series being delivered sometime in 2016.

Twizard Rating: 54