Wikipedia says “babysitting is commonly performed as an odd job by teenagers for extra money.” While that is undoubtedly the stereotype, the movies have shown us that babysitters come in all shapes and sizes.
This weekend Jonah Hill plays an irresponsible college student who reluctantly looks after his neighbour’s wild kids. How wild is it? Well, let’s put it this way; I don’t think Nanny McPhee had a “red band” trailer.
If it sounds familiar, it should. Twenty-four years ago babysitter Elisabeth Shue led her young charges through the streets of Chicago in Adventures in Babysitting. At one point they end up on a nightclub stage. The leader of the house band, played by blues legend Albert Collins, says, “Nobody leaves this place without singing the blues.”
After an awkward pause she improvises the Babysitting Blues.
“It’s so hard babysitting these guys,” she sings. “And they should be in bed,” replies the guitar player over a classic blues-rock riff.
It’s a fantasy, but then again, babysitters have often been the subjects of fantasy. Mary Poppins is a mythical character, a “practically perfect in every way” nanny who knows how to do the right thing in every situation. Kind of like a Victoria Age Super Nanny. In The Babysitter, however, Alicia Silverstone was a much different kind of fantasy child-minder.
This 1995 thriller about a babysitter who becomes the object of obsession for not only the young boys she looks after but for their father as well, is more chilling than titillating. The ads hinted at some nudity from star Silverstone, but in reality she refused to do the film unless the nude scenes where removed.
The most lovable movie minder has to be John Candy as Uncle Buck. Even though he pretends to be capable of mutilation with power tools, he’s less violent than Rebecca De Mornay in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, manlier than Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire and more alive than all the babysitters in Halloween.
In the movie’s most famous scene he answers a barrage of questions from his nephew, played by Macaulay Culkin.
On the day of filming the younger actor couldn’t remember all the questions, so Candy wrote them out and hid them where Culkin could read them.
Now that’s something a great babysitter would do.