Adventures in Babysitting (also known as A Night on the Town in certain countries) is a 1987 American comedy film written by David Simkins, directed by Chris Columbus (in his directorial debut), and starring Elisabeth Shue, Maia Brewton, Keith Coogan, Anthony Rapp, Penelope Ann Miller, Bradley Whitford, and brief cameos by blues singer/guitarist Albert Collins and singer-songwriter Southside Johnny Lyon.
After her boyfriend Mike cancels their anniversary date, seventeen-year-old Chris Parker invites her friend Brenda over to her Oak Park, Illinois, house to cheer her up, but is convinced by her mother to babysit the Andersons’ daughter, 8-year-old Sara, while they attend a party in downtown Chicago. Fifteen-year-old Brad Anderson is supposed to go to his friend Daryl Coopersmith’s house to spend the night, but he changes his mind when he finds that Chris is the sitter. After receiving a frantic phone call from Brenda, who ran away to the bus station downtown, Chris plans to go alone to pick her up but is coerced by Brad, Sara, and Daryl to take them with her. On the freeway, their station wagon suffers a flat tire and they are picked up by a tow truck driver, “Handsome” John Pruitt, who offers to pay for the tire when Chris realizes she left her purse at the Andersons’. En route, Pruitt gets a call from his boss Dawson with evidence that his wife is cheating on him, and he rushes to his house to confront the infidelity; Chris’s mother’s car is damaged when Pruitt accidentally shoots out the windshield while aiming to kill his wife’s lover with his snubnosed revolver. Chris and the kids hide in the adulterer’s Cadillac, which is then car-jacked by a thief named Joe Gipp.
Reaching their hideout in the South Side, the kids realize they have stumbled upon a chop shop, and Joe is chided by Graydon, the operation’s second-in-command, for bringing witnesses. They are detained in an upstairs office but escape. They enter a blues club where the band on stage won’t let them leave until they sing the blues. Chris, Brad, Sara, and Daryl recount their events that night to the audience and are allowed to leave, just as Graydon, Gipp, and their boss Bleak catch up.
Brad tells Chris about his feelings toward her but finds they are not reciprocated. After separating Daryl from a streetwalker who is a runaway, Chris is reminded of Brenda. They are found and chased again by Greydon and Bleak but escape on the Chicago “L” train and wind up in the middle of a gang fight. Brad is injured when one of the gang leaders throws a switchblade onto his foot. They take Brad to the university hospital, where he receives a stitch. They run into Pruitt, who is now on the run for his earlier attacks; he tells the kids he replaced the windshield, but Dawson wants $50 for the tire. The kids come across a fraternity house party, and Chris becomes attracted to Dan Lynch, a gentleman who learns of Chris’ problem and donates $45. He takes them to Dawson’s Garage and drops them off.
When they find Dawson, his blond hair and sledge hammer lead Sara to believe he is her hero Thor. He denies them their car because of the $5 shortage, but when Sara offers him her toy Thor helmet, he changes his mind and lets them go. Meanwhile, Joe Gipp tells Bleak about their troubles, and the three are waiting to follow them. The kids find the restaurant where Mike was supposed to take Chris and discover he is there with another girl. Sara slips away to look at a toy store while Chris yells at Mike. Brad stands up for his friend while Daryl kicks Mike into a food cart, ruining the dinner. Bleak spots Sara, and Graydon chases her to an office building where she hides; the others note her disappearance and follow, accidentally coming across the Andersons’ party. After Sara climbs out an open window and slides down the building, Chris spots her and they run upstairs to help.
After the group pulls Sara from outside the window, Bleak confronts them. Joe knocks his boss out, before giving him a Playboy Magazine that Daryl had stolen, which contained important notes that the criminals wanted, then says he is getting out of crime. The kids retrieve Brenda from the bus station and rush home, narrowly avoiding the Andersons on the way. Once home, Chris cleans up the mess left earlier, settling into place just as the Andersons enter. As Chris says goodnight to the kids, Brad tells her he understands about her not feeling the same way he did about her and tells her that if they see each other at school the next day, it’s okay if she ignores him. But Chris smiles and tells him she doesn’t ignore her friends. Just as Chris is leaving, Dan arrives with one of Sara’s missing skates. He says he needs a babysitter and is disappointed when Chris says she is retired; he confesses the babysitter was for him. Chris decides that retirement can wait and gladly agrees to babysit Dan. With Sara’s encouragement, Chris and Dan kiss outside as Brad closes the blinds.
In a post credits scene, Graydon is shown standing on the ledge, still trying to find his way to safety.
- Elisabeth Shue as Chris Parker
- Keith Coogan as Brad Anderson
- Anthony Rapp as Daryl Coopersmith
- Maia Brewton as Sara Anderson
- Penelope Ann Miller as Brenda
- Bradley Whitford as Mike Todwell
- Calvin Levels as Joe Gipp
- George Newbern as Dan Lynch, a college student
- John Davis Chandler as Bleak
- Ron Canada as Graydon, Bleak’s second in command
- John Ford Noonan as “Handsome” John Pruitt
- Albert Collins as himself; a player in a Chicago Blues club
- Vincent D’Onofrio as Dawson
- Southside Johnny Lyon as band leader at frat party
- Lolita Davidovich as Sue Ann
- Clark Johnson as gang leader
For his directorial debut, Columbus said he reviewed a hundred scripts. He chose Adventures in Babysitting because he felt comfortable with its scale. Paramount Pictures had a right of first refusal but demanded Molly Ringwald be cast in the lead. Over 150 actresses auditioned for the lead role, including Valerie Bertinelli. Shooting took place in Toronto, Chicago, and Los Angeles in early 1987.
The film earned $34.4 million in the United States, which the Los Angeles Times attributed to a new ad campaign.
The film has been released on VHS, LaserDisc, DVD and Blu-ray formats. In the United States, it received a VHS release by Touchstone Home Video on July 14, 1992. It was released on DVD for the first time on January 18, 2000 by Touchstone Home Video. A 25th anniversary edition Blu-ray was released August 7, 2012.
Although it may still be referred to as A Night on the Town on television airings in the United Kingdom, the film was released on rental VHS in the UK under its original title. The VHS was re-released on October 21, 2002 in the United Kingdom by Cinema Club, it received a 15 certificate by the BBFC for strong language and sexual references, it was previously released in an edited PG certificate for family viewing. It was released on DVD in the United Kingdom on May 31, 2004, again uncut like the 15 certificate VHS, it has been reduced to a 12 certificate.
In 2015, Intrada Records released an album from the film, featuring the score by Michael Kamen, including unused music and several of the songs heard in the film. It features “Then He Kissed Me” by The Crystals, “Babysitting Blues” by Albert Collins, “Twenty Five Miles” by Edwin Starr, and “Just Can’t Stop” by Percy Sledge.
As of July 2018, the film has a 78% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 27 reviews.
The film was adapted into an unsold TV pilot of the same name for CBS in 1989. It starred Jennifer Guthrie (who would later co-star on Parker Lewis Can’t Lose with Maia Brewton) as Chris, Joey Lawrence as Brad, Courtney Peldon as Sara, Brian Austin Green as Daryl, and Ariana Mohit as Brenda. It was not picked up as a series.
Disney reportedly planned a remake for release in 2012. Raven-Symoné was to star in the remake, tentatively titled Further Adventures in Babysitting, but withdrew due to other projects. Miley Cyrus was also rumored to be attached to the project, but later denied involvement.
According to Variety, Tiffany Paulsen was writing the script. It was presumed that the remake was scrapped due to years of inactivity. However, on January 9, 2015, Disney Channel announced that the remake would go forward, with Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Carson starring as competing babysitters.