Time: 99 mins.
SYNOPSIS: Forced to cancel her big dream date, Chris Parker, a high school senior, agrees to a last minute babysitting assignment. A desperate call from her best friend sends Chris and her three young charges to the rescue, turning her boring evening in into a night none of them will forget.
BOTTOM LINE: I have to admit that this film is one of my secret little favorites. There's just something about this silly, outrageous, completely unbelievable teenage adventure story that captured my youthful imagination at the time of its initial release, making me deeply relate to the lead character. It still makes me smile today. In her first starring role, Elisabeth Shue gives the film's wild plot a calm center to swirl around. It's her strong performance, filled with wit, charm and energy, that keeps the wackiness at bay, creating a memorable character you can't help but wish to succeed.
The story is a kitchen sink of horrifying vignettes with her fortunes going from bad to worse with every step she takes, as she tries to save her best friend with three young kids in tow. Instead of being at home in the suburbs (or on the best date of her life), she finds herself traipsing around the dark, back streets of Chicago, eluding the mob, encountering her boyfriend out with another woman, literally singing the blues and attending a college frat party. Those are just the main points - there are also several subplots I can't even begin to get into - yet it all comes together in a fairly clever way. Mostly because Shue underplays the crazy and gives you a great character to root for.
Chris Columbus is not one of my favorite director's because his films never seem to have a clear mood or style. This being his first it suffers more than most from his inability to tell a concise, entertaining story that doesn't meander all over the place or include every emotion in the book. His lack of a strong vision is what hampers this film from truly being great. He does have an eye for casting and the kids genuine charm help keep this film afloat, despite the ridiculous situations they find themselves in. I can't recommend that you run out and rent this, but if you happen to catch it on TV, Shue makes it a worthwhile diversion. Especially if you failed to find true love in high school.