Friday, June 24, 2016

Don't Fuck With The Babysitter

The Disney Channel Original Movie, or DCOM. There have been some hits (Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, Brink) and some misses (Dadnapped, Hatching Pete). Tonight, the 100th DCOM, Adventures in Babysitting, airs. It's a little bit of a cheat to call it a Disney Channel Original Movie, since it's a remake of a 1987 film starring Elisabeth Shue. Tiffany Paulsen wrote the new script and the plot is significantly altered from the original by David Simkins, so I guess it counts. I watched the 2016 version and then watched the original, which I had never seen. Why didn't anyone tell me I should watch it earlier? I have been missing out all these years. In order to see how they compare, I stacked them up against each other in a not-at-all scientific way using five categories that I made up.


The Casts

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.

Winner: 1987

The Characters

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.

Winner: 1987

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.

Winner: 1987

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.

Winner: 1987

The Dialogue

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."

Winner: 1987


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.

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