Many, many, many people have complained about how Hollywood has run out of ideas. Of course, this is usually regarding the motion picture industry’s propensity of remaking old movies and TV shows, as well as adapting everything under the sun. The few original movies that make it to the theaters are breaths of fresh air in the stagnant gene pool that is the movie studio system. One upcoming movie, The Sitter, purports to be an original film with screenplay credit given to Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka. The movie is directed by David Gordon Green, who made a splash making serious, though-provoking films like George Washington, All the Real Girls, and Undertow. Somehow, he segued into profane, R-rated sex and drug comedies like The Pineapple Express and Your Highness. The Sitter does not seem to be much different in that respect. The problem is, it looks like a remake of 1987’s The Adventures in Babysitting, which was Chris Columbus’s debut as a director from a screenplay by David Simkins.
Take a look at the trailers for these two movies and see if you can find any similarities:
Let’s go over the elements that are the same in each film:
- A young person is pressured to take on the job of a babysitter
- The family hiring the babysitter is from an upscale suburban neighborhood
- The babysitter has to watch three kids, two boys and a girl
- The girl being babysat is dressed up outrageously
- The primary boy being babysat is a generic, preppy type
- The second boy is obnoxious and quirky, prone to get in trouble
- A phone call from a girl causes the babysitter to gather the kids up for a road trip into the city
- The babysitter and the kids get involved with a shoot-out that damages the vehicle they’re driving
- They end up in a night club or bar where they have to interact with black characters
- Characters perform on stage in a completely out-of-place manner
- A high-classed restaurant is featured as a location for comedic effect
- Organized bad guys are after the main characters
- The heroes run afoul of other streetwise punks
The trailer for The Sitter actually has the gall to say it will “take you where no babysitting movie has gone before.” Really? I wonder what Columbus and Simkins thinks about that. For that matter, how many babysitting movies has there been besides these two? Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee perhaps, if they even count since technically they’re not precisely babysitters.
So The Sitter pretends to tell a brand new story, despite the fact that it looks to have exactly the same plot as a movie that came out 24 years ago. Were the filmmakers hoping that no one would remember the previous movie? Did they think that since it’s obviously targeted to a teenage and college-set audience, that those with interest in seeing it are too young to even know Adventures in Babysitting even exists? Perhaps they don’t care; they can just rip off an older movie and not even bother to call it a remake.
Though let’s give Green and his writers the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they themselves were not even aware of Columbus’s film. After all, who can expect to know the entire motion picture catalog in the history of movies? But wait–The Sitter is being released by Twentieth Century Fox. It’s not like Green made a small, independent film that happened to be similar to some other obscure movie. Surely someone at Fox noticed the fact that this was like a movie previously made by Touchtone Pictures (a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company)? No executive who greenlit the project or anyone in the marketing department (such as whoever came up with the “where no babysitting movie has gone before” tripe) thought to themselves, “Gee, I wonder if anyone at Disney will remember one of their films?” It could be that nobody at either studio remembers anything made more than a decade ago. Except how then can you explain why they want to keep remaking movies from the ’80’s?
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