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Adventures in Babysitting (2016) DVD Review

Disney's Adventures in Babysitting (2016) DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Adventures in Babysitting (2016)
Movie & DVD Details

Director: John Schultz / Writers: Tiffany Paulsen (teleplay); David Simkins (original movie - uncredited)

Cast: Sabrina Carpenter (Jenny Parker), Sofia Carson (Lola Perez), Nikki Hahn (Emily Cooper), Mallory James Mahoney (Katy Cooper), Max Gecowets (Trey Anderson), Jet Jurgensmeyer (Bobby Anderson), Madison Horcher (AJ Anderson), Kevin Quinn (Zac Chase), Gillian Vigman (Helen Anderson), Gabrielle Miller (Donna Cooper), Michael Northey (Tiny), Ken Lawson (Scalper), Max Lloyd-Jones (Officer James), Kevin O'Grady (Barry Cooper), Hugo Ateo (Hal Anderson), Emiliano P. Diez (Leon Vasquez), Amitai Marmorstein (Douglas), Jasmine Chan (Dominique Cassidy), Kathryn Kirkpatrick (Trixie), Sean Tyson (Officer Fitz)

Original Air Date: June 24, 2016 / Running Time: 94 Minutes / Rating: TV-G

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Hi-Def Broadcast Ratio)
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround 2.0 (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extra Subtitled and Captioned
DVD Release Date: June 28, 2016 / Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / Black Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover

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The 1987 comedy Adventures in Babysitting is one of my favorite movies of all time. I've sung its praises at length, so if you'd like to know why I hold it in such high regard, check out my 2012 review of the Blu-ray. The movie is popular enough to be considered popular (it's one of the few analog era titles Disney has bothered to bring to Blu-ray),
but it's not quite something that everyone knows and loves. Thus, my attachment to it is different from other favorite movies that are practically held up as cultural events and rites of passages, movies like Ghostbusters and Back to the Future.

There aren't many remakes or sequels I enter with trepidation, but Disney Channel's 2016 remake Adventures in Babysitting is one of them. This is a personal favorite being tapped for TV-G basic cable telemovie treatment on the eve of its thirtieth anniversary. Many if not most viewers won't know the original movie. Though the first sentence of the official synopsis acknowledges it, I'm not even sure Disney would like them to discover it, because it's a bona fide late-'80s PG-13 with profanity, violence, sex talk and a plot driven by an issue of Playboy. While I'm able to remain ambivalent towards the upcoming female Ghostbusters reboot because I know there are countless others to defend the original film's honor, I don't know that the original Babysitting has many vocal supporters and admirers, so some responsibility most fall on me.

Circumstances require Lola (Sofia Carson) and Jenny (Sabrina Carpenter) to take the Andersons' SUV and the five kids they're watching into the city in "Adventures in Babysitting."

I can already tell you going in that I haven't genuinely enjoyed a Disney Channel Original Movie in around a decade. A couple have been better than expected, but those I have seen have been more out of obligation to review them and less out of an interest to see them. I didn't have much hope that the DCOM format could do justice to Babysitting, with trailers showing probably the most quotable line from the original film necessarily being altered to "Don't mess with the babysitter" for this version. Still, there was less at stake here than there was in the theatrical versions that were planned and rumored in the mid-to-late-Noughties to be in development as projects for Raven-Symoné and then Miley Cyrus.

This actualized remake gives us two babysitters and two sets of kids. In the opening scene, Jenny Parker (Sabrina Carpenter, the bestie on "Girl Meets World" and voice of Princess Vivian on "Sofia the First") and Lola Perez (Sofia Carson, Evie from Disney Channel's Descendants franchise) cross paths. The contrary former geometry classmates are both among the finalists for a photography internship, making them adversaries of sorts. Jenny, a career-oriented résumé builder, and Lola, a high school grad who isn't attending college, accidentally swap cell phones at their indecisive internship appointment.

By the time Jenny realizes the phones have been switched, she's already at the house of the Andersons, beginning her night of watching three very different kids while their parents attend a gala at the planetarium. Intrigued by the money and needing to pay off a parking ticket, Lola agrees to babysit for the Coopers, two other kids whose parents are attending the same gala. Completely inexperienced at babysitting, Lola is soon in over her head. Meanwhile, the two parties come together to track down the teen who has snuck out to a concert.

Lola Perez (Sofia Carson) and Jenny Parker (Sabrina Carpenter) take each other on in a rap battle.

The night leads this group of youths to a pawn shop, where we're introduced to a couple of dim-witted, nonthreatening bad guys, who look like an off-brand Kevin James and an off-brand Daniel Tosh.
Eager to retrieve Lola's camera, which has apparently snapped an incriminating shot of the duo's stolen purple spray painted ferret among other incidents from the evening, the villains take chase after our leads, enduring such misadventures as getting splattered with mud and hit with laundry bags.

After the Andersons' borrowed-without-permission SUV is towed, our heroines and their wards have to raise the $100 to get it back. But scalping a concert ticket lands Lola in jail. Oh, what a night!

2016's Babysitting isn't bad enough to offend those fond of the original film. There is no danger of this supplanting that in anyone's heart. This is the diluted Disney Channel version. It bears as much resemblance to the original film as Home Alone: Holiday Heist bears to Macaulay Culkin's Christmas blockbuster, which like 1987's Babysitting was directed by Chris Columbus.

Plot points have all been softened and edges have been sanded down. There's no gang fight or knife to the foot. The bad guys here aren't running a nationwide car theft ring. The stolen Playboy has become just an ordinary camera. The "Babysitting Blues" number in an all-black club has become a rap battle in a diverse, young, and more hospitable club.

The bad guys (Michael Northey and Ken Lawson) get dirty and clean and outwitted throughout the night.

Tiffany Paulsen, picking up her first writing credit since 2007's theatrical Nancy Drew, is clearly a fan of the original movie and others behind this production appear to be too. There are homages in the surnames, the use of Dawson's towing company, Jenny's coat, and even some directly lifted gags. Nothing here displays the wit and charm of the corresponding feature from the original movie, but how could it? The original movie was a comedy that played to those who enjoyed John Hughes movies. This new one is aimed at those who tune in to "Girl Meets World" and are looking forward to the next Descendants movie.

Keeping that target audience in mind and setting expectations accordingly, this Babysitting is okay for what it is. It's a lot less funny and less fun than the original, to no one's surprise. But it's watchable, most of the time.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Like most Disney Channel productions, Adventures in Babysitting does not have the privilege of a Blu-ray release. This DVD's presentation pales in resolution to the HD broadcasts many would have seen it in on Friday and in subsequent airings. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound are fine on their own merits, but standard definition doesn't have the sizzle it used to. French and Spanish dubs and subtitles are supplied.

Nikki Hahn and Max Gecowets share a laugh over some loud, dry croutons in the blooper reel "Adventures in Outtakes." The Adventures in Babysitting (2016) DVD main menu loses the five kids and just keeps the Disney-seasoned starlets.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

For the way that it is prominently touted in the packaging, "Adventures in Outtakes" (1:40) is shorter than expected.
It features some bloopers, plus a glimpse at the evidently deleted club rap of Tiny and Scalper.

Though the real on-disc extras abruptly end there, one other item is found inside the slipcovered black keepcase: a magnetic photo frame, whose removable center supplies some babysitting rules (taken from the movie) and ideas (which are not). I guess that is a nice touch and one Disney didn't have to spend money on. Inserts for Disney Movie Rewards and Disney Movie Club also sit across from the plain white disc.

The disc opens with a Finding Dory trailer. Post-feature sneak peeks advertise Disney Movie Rewards, Descendants: Official Mobile Game, and "Girl Meets World." The menu's sneak peeks listing repeats the Dory trailer after running through those.

Disney continues to put the same effort into menus, even though most of their competitors have scaled back their creativity in this area. The 16:9 selection screens feature an array of imagery and are all scored.

Jenny (Sabrina Carpenter) and Lola (Sofia Carson) must join forces to get through the night intact.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I expected to hate Disney Channel's Adventures in Babysitting remake, but that set my expectations just low enough not to mind it. Yes, this is a neutered and watered-down update, but even that is better than some of what Disney Channel offers their viewers. If nothing else, it may inspire some to see and appreciate the classic original comedy.

Disney hasn't bothered to give many recent DCOMs a release on home video, but 2016's Babysitting gets a basic yet adequate DVD that is very light on extras. I recommend you buy and watch the original movie before even thinking about bothering with this.

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Related Reviews:
Adventures in Babysitting (1987) | Sofia Carson: Descendants | Sabrina Carpenter: Horns
Disney Channel Original Movies: Geek CharmingLet It ShineRadio RebelWizards of Waverly Place: The Movie
The Lion Guard: Return of the RoarThe SitterFun SizeMean Girls 2Moms' Night OutHome Alone: The Holiday Heist

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Reviewed June 27, 2016.



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