Rewind: Adventures in Babysitting

Yesterday’s Movies began in December 2009. I’m marking ten years of … uh, zeitgeist hitting the fan, apparently, with a look back at the first movie I reviewed on a weekly update schedule.

Adventures in Babysitting.
Touchstone/Silver Screen Partners III 1987

I remember this movie positively, so I’m surprised how negative my review sounds. My topics still might not necessarily flow into each other, but I try to be coherent on at least the level of paragraphs. I’m pretty sure my original review is more jumbled than the movie seemed to me at the time.

While Thor is still a random character to be enamored with for the 80s, his film appearances in the last decade have certainly raised his relevancy now. In 2009, if I even knew that Marvel Studios was making a Thor movie, I was aghast and perplexed that someone thought he was a movie superhero. His first two solo movies didn’t do much to change my mind, but as an ensemble player and in Ragnarok, I enjoy him a lot now.

Chris’s boyfriend cancels on their anniversary dinner at the last minute, and Chris ends up agreeing to babysit Thor fan Sara and her older brother Brad, who has a freshman crush on Chris. When Chris’s friend Brenda spends all her money running away to the bus station downtown, Chris takes her charges into the city, along with Brad’s lecherous friend Daryl. A fast succession of misadventures soon causes them to be targeted by a murderous gang of car thieves.

It’s a lot easier to complain about movies than to discuss what’s good or analyze them. I still think Daryl’s initial portrayal is way over the top, but that comes from a combination of him being a kid who doesn’t know or care what’s not okay in a time when they didn’t know as well what wasn’t okay. Everyone’s characterizations as they’re introduced are a little heavy-handed, it’s just that Daryl’s really hasn’t aged well.

For a city as diverse as Chicago, it seems a little odd that the three different music venues visited are all into rhythm and blues. It’s good music, and the Babysitting Blues is a highlight of a scene, but I think it reveals where someone’s taste in music lay.

I think Sara’s love of Thor might be meant to draw a parallel between comic book adventures and the gang’s series of travails. Every time they get themselves out of trouble, they quickly land in a new kind of it. Also Thor may a bit of an odd choice, but he definitely is one of the easiest comic book superheroes to accidentally cosplay as, which leads to the most important Sara scene.

Looking back at what I was writing ten years ago, I think it’s easy to see how much I’ve grown into this. I don’t always feel like my writing makes sense, but I’ve developed a sensibility that I don’t think would let something that disjointed get published now. A good movie deserves better than a pile of disconnected complaints.

YesterMovies Rewind: Family Plot


Family Plot. Universal Pictures 1976.
Family Plot. Universal Pictures 1976.

Five years ago this month, Yesterday’s Movies officially began. To celebrate half a decade of movie reviews, I’m rewatching some of the highlights and giving them second-look reviews. This week, I’m giving the unfairly forgotten Family Plot another try.

In May of 2011, I was preparing to leave for an extended stay in another state, and I’d decided that my last review the night before leaving would be a family copy of Family Plot. However, shortly after I began watching the movie, I received word canceling the lodgings I thought I’d secured for my trip. I spent the next few hours frantically trying to make other arrangements, and while I managed to get a review posted, I probably hadn’t had enough attention to give it. Therefore, I always wanted to find an opportunity to give it another attempt, since it’s probably the film on this blog most deserving of a second look.

That story is pretty much all of what I remember about the movie. It’s some kind of comedy about murder, but I think that much is stated on the box.

Continue reading

YesterMovies Rewind: L.A. Story

L.A. Story. Carolco Pictures, 1991.
L.A. Story. Carolco Pictures, 1991.

Five years ago, on December 4, 2009, Yesterday’s Movies officially began. To celebrate half a decade of movie reviews, I’m rewatching some of the highlights and giving them second-look reviews. I’m kicking it off with a look back at the best reviewing experience I had, L.A. Story.

As I recall, I’d heard the film spoken of glowingly, but never expected it to be much more than one more copy-paste romantic comedy. I didn’t expect the amount of fun, warmth, and satire, and I certainly didn’t expect the element of fantasy. At this point the main thing I remember about the plot is that Steve Martin falls in love with a woman he probably shouldn’t. Also there’s a cameo with Patrick Stewart.

I’m concerned that it won’t be as good as I remember, simply because so much of my impression was born from the gulf between what I expected and what I actually saw.

Continue reading