In true DCOM fashion, the 2016 version stars some familiar Disney Channel faces, Sabrina Carpenter (Girl Meets World) as Jenny and Sofia Carson (Descendants) as Lola. They are competing for an internship and after an accidental cell phone switch off of the DCOM plot device checklist, Lola accepts a babysitting job offer that Jenny turned down, since she was already sitting for another family. Carpenter and Carson are on the likable side of the new crop of Disney Channel stars and the kids are not as annoying as the children in other DCOMS. But in addition to Shue as Chris, the original has a very young Anthony Rapp as obnoxious, sex-obsessed Daryl and Bradley Whitford plays her asshole boyfriend, Mike, so it automatically has the edge.
Chris only had to watch two kids and the tag-along friend. Jenny and Lola have a total of five. There are some nice additions--future Master Chef Junior Bobby (Jet Jurgensmeyer) and rebellious Emily Cooper (Nikki Hahn)--but because there are so many, you don't get a chance to know them as well as in the original. Less is more. Plus, the 1987 version has the hilarious Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller), who runs away from home and needs Chris to pick her up, the inciting incident for the adventures. Her storyline was probably too dark for Disney, but the movie isn't the same without her.
Rap Battle Versus Blues Singing
Most of the ads I've seen for the 2016 version (and because I've been watching a lot of the old DCOMS as part of the marathon, I've seen A LOT of commercials for it), advertise the rap battle between Jenny and Lola. It's not that great, as far as rap battles go. They find themselves on stage in a club and have to perform before they can leave, so it is an update of the original in which they find themselves in a blues club. The blues song has better lyrics and more emotion. Rapp even performs in it.
Thor Versus Roller Derby
In the original, the youngest kid, Sara (Maia Brewton) is infatuated with Thor. She rides around on roller skates wearing a Thor helmet. In the update, AJ (Madison Horcher) rides skates too, but it's because she's obsessed with the roller derby. It's odd that Disney wouldn't take advantage of the obvious Marvel tie-in and keep the Thor stuff in there. I appreciate that a young girl in 2016 would have roller derby as a hobby, but I also like that a young girl in the '80s liked comics before it was trendy.
The line, "Don't fuck with the babysitter," was changed to, "Don't mess with the babysitters," to make it kid-friendly. Likewise, all the curse words and talk of Playboys is gone and with them, a lot of the humor. There was a questionable line about rape that I'm happy to see gone, but overall, the 2016 version is so watered down that I wonder who at Disney saw the original and thought, "Yeah, that's in keeping with our brand."
The original Adventures in Babysitting is the clear winner here. The DCOM is not without its charms. The song "Wildside" is pretty catchy (though it's no "Supernova Girl") and Carpenter always elevates the material she's given (I'm looking at you, Girl Meets World). If you're a Disney Channel fan, you won't be sorry you watched it, but if you're going to, do yourself a favor and watch the original too. It's available on Netflix streaming.