Picks and Pans Review: Adventures in Babysitting

updated 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It should be called Risky Business: The Next Generation. A 17-year-old suburban sweetheart gets put in charge of a household and then gets into trouble. Out gallivanting around Chicago, she receives an education in urban insanity. On second thought, maybe this should have been called Farrah Bueller's Day Off. While the movie is aimed at teenage girls and produced by two women, it's no feminist fantasy. This lady is saddled with three kids. And for a new-fangled girl, she shows signs of being an old-fashioned victim. Her boyfriend cancels their date at the last minute. Her mother makes her take a babysitting job against her will. Her best girlfriend is being terrorized by bums in a downtown bus station, triggering the misadventures that follow. As played by Elisabeth Shue, this ingenue shows little ingenuity. Her idea of problem-solving consists of picking up a preppie at a frat party. If this comedy is backhanded in its sexism, it is blatantly racist; Adventures in Babysitting is shockingly careless in its stereotypes. In fact the message seems to be: White women of the suburbs, beware. Our heroine is kidnapped by a black car thief, threatened by two Hispanic gangs and intimidated at a blues bar in which she and her charges are the only Caucasians. Despite the offenses of David Simkin's script, Shue could have made something of her role. Instead we get hair and makeup. Making his directorial debut, screenwriter Chris (Gremlins) Columbus stages the material with a polish it doesn't deserve. Selling its stereotypes in a slick package, Adventures in Babysitting is a misadventure in moviegoing. (PG-13)

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