“Adventures in Babysitting” was a highly talked about remake being developed over the course of half a decade, as there were talks of a big screen release with Raven-Symone starring, then Miley Cyrus perhaps taking on the lead. After years in gestation, it was finally dropped on to the Disney Channel as their 100th Original movie. Sure enough, now that Symone is a self-parody, and Cyrus is doing her own adult things, Disney hands the notable remake over to two of the current Disney stars Sabrina Carpenter, and Sofia Carson. Disney has been very good about casting their films for the last decade, so Carson and Carpenter aren’t just talented, charismatic actresses, but also attract their own loyal fan base.
Carpenter is Jenny a straight laced photography student who wants to intern at a company. While at her interview, she happens across the more relaxed and bold Lola, who is competing for the same position. After a mix up, they get their phones switched, and Lola takes a babysitting job meant for Jenny as a means of making some money. When things go awry, Jenny learns about the mix up and intends to put Lola’s scam to rest. But when one of their kids sneaks out to go to a concert in the city, they intend to track him down before their parents get home from a gala event. Of course, the kids tag along, and before long they’re embroiled in all kinds of misadventures.
This remake has no connection to the 1987 film, save for repeating a few of the same beats here and there. There’s the big “Don’t Mess with the Babysitter!” moment, our protagonists are on the run from criminals, they have to get their car back and have zero money, and one of the spunky female kids gets to meet her hero. Instead this time, she meets her favorite Roller Derby player, rather than her perception of a comic book character. The scene has almost no impact as the original did, even if it is kind of cute. Disney owns Marvel now, so I kind of figured they’d strengthen the Thor connection for this reworking of the original film. There’s not even a cameo from Elisabeth Shue, sadly.
This new version does little to argue the point of having two female babysitters this time around, except for devising a plot that allows the pair to wander around the city looking for one of their kids. That said, Carpenter and Carson compensate for the lack of personality the younger characters have. For some reason the writers stuff the film with young kids, rather than a conservative trio to allow for more exposition and personality. The kids are mostly reduced to gimmicky personas and catchphrases while Carson and Carpenter pick up the slack. The characters have to learn to work together to get home before they run afoul two pawn shop clerks that have an illegal exotic animal in their midst, all the while learning something about themselves.
It’s typical Disney channel hokum, but it’s at least a fun diversion with some exciting, creative chase sequences. Director Schull even puts a twist on the famous performance in the original by turning it in to a rap battle between the two stars. This is a scene audiences will either love or hate, but I enjoyed it in all its goofy glory. With Disney Channel movies, cheese and camp are a prerequisite, so most times you either go with the flow, or resist. I went with the flow, and didn’t hate the experience. This “Adventures…” is nowhere near as good as Chris Columbus’ original, but it has its definite charms, and it serves its purpose as a vehicle for up and comers Sofia Carson and Sabrina Carpenter.