This has been one of the hardest reviews I've had to write since I started doing this blog daily. It has been absolute murder for me to put my thoughts down into words that can be read and make sense, as well as be both objective and share my real opinions on this movie as well. The difficulty in how I try to review is to give you a good analytical sense of these films, as well as just sharing the necessary information if you want to see it, and also making it very clear how I personally feel about the thing. But ... goodness. Look, here's my second attempt to start writing about this movie:
"This movie should be called Adventures in Increasingly Improbable Coincidences. Wow."
And that's it. It's a pretty funny opener, and accurate, but I had no words after that. I wanted to cop out, and just give a grade. But I do not do that for my daily reviews. Sure, in an AMA I don't mind. Or for a film I've already seen quite often and just want to put it up on facebook, why not. But for these, the whole article is important to me. And I had nothing else. I wrote that on Tuesday this week. I watched the film Monday. And in my second attempt, I could only get that far. My first attempt was longer but ... well, look.
"I may have talked about this before, but let me talk about why torture comedies are my least favorite form of comedy. The conceit of the torture comedy is that those little terrible things that happen in your life that suck, like a flat tire, or running into your boyfriend cheating on you, or losing a ring, or being stuck with people you don't like that torment you ... see, the idea is that you are seeing likable characters getting hurt. Physically or emotionally or mentally or some combination or all of it."
That isn't even a complete, finished thought. You know why? Because I cannot quantify the point I was trying to make, at least not easily, in that that set up sucks really bad. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Uncle Buck. These are torture comedies where likable people are hurt for no reason. They suck. There's also the opposite side, where the characters are just jerks the whole time, and aren't likable in the slightest: Funny Farm; Trading Places; Saving Silverman. All of those movies suck. Torture comedies I think that work: The Vacation series (for the most part); Just Friends. They have likable characters ... but flawed ones. You both enjoy seeing Chevy Chase get hurt, and you also empathize with him when it isn't his fault. It gets the perfect mix.
This movie falls in the suck category. But it isn't very fair, because I really like Elizabeth Shue in Adventures in Babysitting. She is indeed a likable character that I don't want to see get hurt, and she is believable, and--
See, just now, I took a fifteen minute break because I go so tired of thinking about this movie. Writing about this film is a chore of Leonard Part 6 levels. Before we jump too much farther, Leonard Part 6 is an infinitely worse film. It fails in every regard. And there is some good stuff to Adventures in Babysitting. Like I said, Elizabeth Shue is great. And the opening, with her lip syncing and dancing ... I fell in love. How could you not? She was great. Also, little Thor loving kid is ... memorable.
Ok, so everyone that isn't Elizabeth Shue can very easily be put into one-dimensional categories. There's the "awkard, lovestruck kid," the "precocious little girl" though she does have a love of Thor for complete plot convenience later on, the "horny kid," the "flustered nerdy best friend," not to mention all the homeless people who are thieves and crazy, the gangsters who are ... well, gangsters. Even the doctor is standard jokey-one-dimensional Indian doctor. There are only two really interesting, fully fleshed characters, one being Elizabeth Shue, and the other being a car thief who takes them to the chop shop in their Increasingly Unlikely Series of Events While Babysitting. I for the LONGEST time throughout the runtime thought he was going to be an undercover cop, or perhaps the love interest ... but nah, he's just a character that for some reason that is beyond me got to have a bunch of facets and dimensions to his character.
I just realized that it sounds like I am complaining about that ... and I kind of am! You create a second character that is likable, interesting, with motives of his own, a sense of loyalty and kindness, but is still a car thief who is stuck working with the mob. And he's relegated to just ... lackey with a few lines. Almost just a glorified cameo. Let me know more about him. Tell me his story. What a crazy day it is for him, to be stealing a car when 3 kids and a teenager get in and you have to take them to safety from a guy shooting a rifle. And then they steal your boss's boss's Playboy that he wrote all his damning evidence in. Oh yeah, I should mention, Elizabeth Shue looks like the centerfold for this issue of Playboy. It is a running "gag" in that it comes up a lot and is supposed to be funny? It is just another coincidence in the long train of coincidences.
The comedy in this movie ... not comedy. It isn't funny. There aren't jokes and punchlines or set ups or anything. Just ... things happening. And they are odd. And their oddness is what makes them funny. Oh, the mechanic that got mentioned earlier looks like Vincent D'onofrio playing a mechanic who I guess could look like Thor so that the little girl can think he's the real Thor even though she is in no way young enough for that to make any sense that she believes it.
Thor. Thor, ladies and gentlemen.
This movie ... I don't like it. In fact, I hate it. I would not tell anyone to watch this movie, ever. I'm pretty sure that there is a lot of nostalgia built up into it, and perhaps for some this kind of trainwreck of a plot and haphazard attempt at "comedy" works. But for me, there is only one redeemable thing about the movie beyond Elizabeth Shue. And that is that I never ever have to see it again.
Grade: D--- (it is shot competently enough that I am hard-pressed to give it an F ... but I stared at this grade for a very long time arguing about it.)