Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
Don’t make fun. It’s a defining moment in 80s cinema.
Not since Good Will Hunting have we seen a film shot in Toronto do as good a job at disguising the city as the classic Adventures in Babysitting.
The former film took place in Boston while the latter is in Chicago, and a combination of good establishing shots and some actual location shooting are almost enough to disguise our fair city’s acting as the Windy City. Almost.
As in The Sound of Music, a good song can save you from even the worst of fates…
If you are a lady “of a certain age,” you love Adventures in Babysitting. You dance in your underwear when you hear “And Then He Kissed Me,” you can sing The Babysitter Blues, and you can crack your friends up simply by saying, “Don’t fuck with the babysitter!”
If you are a male of a certain age, however, you mostly remember that one of the film’s subplots involves future Oscar nominee Elisabeth Shue looking an awful lot like a Playboy centerfold. Here at Reel Toronto, we care little about such things. Like real estate agents, it’s all about location, location, location.
Take the famed Babysitter Blues sequence, for example. Some people might be too enthralled by the comedy at hand or the presence of Albert Collins to notice that it’s not taking place in any, old, scuzzy Chicago blues joint. Hell, no—it’s our own scuzzy blues joint, The Silver Dollar. Fans of ’80s cinema (and loyal readers) might also recognize it as The Blue Oyster bar from Police Academy.
Just another night on Elizabeth Street…
As for the plot, it’s standard fare. It’s kinda like Die Hard with kids, in that the babysitter just wants to do her job but all these bad, bad things keep happening. For starters, Chris, the babysitter, is waiting to go on a date when her boyfriend calls in sick, freeing her up to babysit, you see.
One of the key subplots is that she is supposed to pick up her friend (played by a pre-quasi-fame Penelope Ann Miller) at the local bus station. A nice location shot like this one is almost enough to disguise the fact that the scenes were filmed at our own terminal at Bay and Dundas.
“The Little Blue”? Is that supposed to sound like a nice joint?
Eventually, Chris finds out that the boy with whom she is so much in love is actually dating some other chick and, rather than being sick, is having dinner with her at a hoity-toity restaurant. The smarmy boyfriend is played by The West Wing‘s Bradley Whitford (apparently immune to aging ). Anyway, the kids start a fuss, get kicked out of the restaurant, and end up on Wellesley Street, outside the Sutton Place (today the eatery is called Accents).
We don’t know that this scene was actually shot in Toronto, but there was no way to avoid posting a screencap. See, the girl in the movie is obsessed with the comic book character Thor, and she thinks she meets him when the group ends up at a local mechanic’s shop. Having not seen the movie in a loooong time, we were stunned to realize that “Thor” is played by a pre-fame, pre–Private Pyle, lean, mean Vincent D’Onofrio. To quote famous Torontonian Will Hunting, “How do you like them apples?”
Maybe you’ve heard the legends of how American films would have to toss garbage around when filming here to make us look like an American city. Well, AiB (as we call it) seems to be the source of all that, having strewn garbage in an alley only to find it gone when it came time to shoot.
We know some hospital scenes were shot at Toronto General and Toronto Western, but overall, you have to keep your eyes open to spot Toronto here—so kudos to the crew.