Friday, June 24, 2016

Adventures in Babysitting Review (Disney Channel Original Movie remake)

Let me in you little punts!

What is it? DCOM (single-cam made-for-TV Disney Channel Original Movie)
Where did it air? Disney Channel 
Who stars in it? Sabrina Carpenter (Maya Hart, Girl Meets World) and Sofia Carson (Evie, Descendants) plus some newcomers in the form of Nikki Hahn and a bunch of what's their faces I can't remember off the top of my head (Nikki just sticks in my head because 1.) her name is easy to remember and 2.) she looks like a pint-sized Landry Bender. I don't know why that would make her more memorable, it just does).
Why are we reviewing this? Because it's a DCOM, as in Disney Channel Original Movie, and the title and URL of this blog says Nick and Disney Channel Reviewed, so there.

I'll get back with reviews for Danger & Thunder (spoiler alert: I thought it was pretty bad) and Girl Meets Season 3, but for the time being, Adventures in Babysitting (saw it days ago on the Watch Disney Channel app, actually) turned out to be...pretty decent. I sure hope Christian and Sean decide to review this one. In the meantime let's have Mike take over, why don't we?

I was debating over whether or not to watch the movie, but I didn't. I might have a couple of comments to make in response to your review so I'll wait for your thoughts. In the meantime, I'm going to start writing up the newest GMW review. Spoiler alert: It was crap. 

Alright so back to, um, actually doing this thing. Christian and Sean over at GMWReviewed have said they're never going to touch this one in a million years so...I think I mentioned this before but I think the whole experience of reviewing all the other shows, plus Teen Beach 2 (which in all fairness sucked compared to the first one) plus Descendants (which in all fairness is pretty middling as it is - I really do think Christian and Sean just drew the short straw in terms of watching DCOMs as they were scheduled for that year as 2015, well, pretty much thoroughly blew as far as quality DCOMs are concerned) pretty much spoiled them from wanting to touch anything that isn't directly involved with the Boy Meets World cast which means of the two blogs this is going to be the only one reviewing DC-AiB or for that matter anything else on Disney Channel, so there I guess. Hooray for exclusivity. 

Let's get the important stuff out of the way: is it actually worth watching? I'd say yes, even with my absurdly high tolerance for kiddie fare like this. Is it worth watching if you're a fan of the original? Having actually seen the original (actually, just prior to finishing up this review no less), again, I'd say yes. For those of you who keep insisting that the Disney Channel remake can't hold a candle to the original, I have to say, get over yourselves and actually go back and watch the original. We'll (well, at least I, but I'll be sure to give Mike an invite well-beforehand) be reviewing the original in due time, but for now: yes, it's actually pretty obvious that the Disney Channel actually did bother to watch the original. Several times, in fact, probably. Is the DC remake any less better because it doesn't drop an F-bomb once or has a weirdly dyed-purple ferret instead of a Playboy featuring Elizabeth Shue as the centerfold spread with a by-hand spreadsheet of stolen cars written on it, or any less cheesier because it was produced by the same network that gave us Wizards of Waverly Place, Jessie, ANT Farm and High School Musical? No, and in regards to that latter point it's not like the original was on a strict Velveeta-less diet either. But we'll get deeper into the actual worthwhile and fundamental differences between the two films in due time, when we actually get to reviewing the original.

Regarding the details of this remake...it's already been long enough (yeah I really need to practice being timely with these reviews - but again, these reviews are surprisingly time-intensive and I just have other things going on including a professional life, a personal life that kind of builds into my professional life, and a major relocation project going on - while Mike has a major relocation project called going to college so you'll have to cut us a break here. Honestly Christian and Sean have the right idea by doing these reviews piecemeal and going back to add to them even days after or more, even when doing a more current review at the same time. Kind of like what we do only less extreme. I think they've said as much that it collectively takes several hours to string these words together overall and after spending six straight hours putting the Mysteries of Laura Double-Finale Review Part 1 together [roughly eight times longer than the actual portion of the one episode actually reviewed in Part 1] yeah, I can believe it) that I've largely forgotten them despite the fact that the movie is not only still readily available on Disney OnDemand, but I still have it sitting on my DVR and...yeah, I may have even gotten the DVD (ok, so I checked out the DVD from my local library for the extras content). But yeah, let's face it - if the details really were worth remembering that much I would've remembered them. We can sit here and debate which DCOMs are actually the most memorable or memorable at all (and if there's one thing I learned from this "100 DCOM celebration" it's that media sites actually do that) but the most fair thing that can be said is that it's an extremely rare occurrence for Disney to be going out and intentionally creating a cinematic masterpiece for 90 minutes of television time. 

I certainly think, though, that DC-AiB has enough going for it to be remembered as well as any other "classic" DCOM, even if the ratings don't agree (yeah, about that, we'll get into that in Extra Thoughts). As mentioned I find it a worthy remake, Sabs and Sofia may not have hit it out of the park but they certainly delivered what the movie needed. The musical score (endless variations of the main theme, "Wildside," a Sabs-Sofia duet) while certainly not nearly as diverse or as licensed as the original, I think actually lends a better and even more engaging atmosphere. Even as a made-for-TV movie there's a clear benefit in nearly 30 years of cinematic evolution, both in the technology used to film it and the technical aspects employed by its director, which I think more than makes up for whatever lack of diversity in score this remake has. I thought the motif of Lola (Sofia) taking pictures was a pretty slick touch, too, and it leads to a pretty slick coda for the movie too - in fact one of the slickest codas for a DCOM I've yet seen (and thanks to this whole 100 DCOM celebration I've pretty much seen them all at this point - I need a life, sigh). The little kids - Nikki Hahn and um da otha's - again, regardless of their actual acting skill they delivered what the movie actually needed.

The plot - yes, the plot was ridiculous. The ferret with the purple dye job so bad and lazy even Debby Ryan would have to comment on it - I thought that was a bit too far into simply stupid territory but not too much that it's unforgivable, I just wish Disney Channel went with something even just a modicum more credible for a McGuffin O'Value. But, again, the original wasn't exactly lighthearted Citizen Kane for Young Adults either. And you know what? It was fun. It was fun enough that I actually enjoyed the movie, and certainly did not regret wasting my time watching it (so much so that I'd seen it twice before the actual Disney Channel premiere on Watch Disney Channel and have seen it an additional three times since - in addition to all the previously mentioned stuff about getting checking out from the library the DVD, blah blah blah). Especially if you're only allowed to pick one DCOM out of a series to be on a ranked list (so that the entire Halloweentown series just takes up one spot for example), I think DC-AiB might even be in the top 5 or at least the top 10 - and given how that would still be over 80 or so examples on that list, that says a lot. 

So no, it's not the deepest DCOM in the history of ever (there've been a few that actually tried for that, with varying degrees of success, which we may or may not review at some point) but whatever, I was entertained enough to like it. I know everybody on the GMW board on IMDb keeps bitching about kidcoms needing to be "deep" and basically be DeGrassi clones and how in even trying to be deep automatically makes GMW the best series in the history of the network completely regardless of how actually successful it is in being deep or even in just being good or how hard it's even really trying to be deep in the first place (that's something worth it's own blog post that's coming...hopefully by the end of the weekend) but sometimes just being fun works. If you want to expose your child to shit that's deep, well...I think no one's ever said it better than the great Mr. George Feeny himself:


OPEN A BOOK!

As an English Teacher (well, someone with experience teaching a Language Arts classroom), yeah, let's go with that.

Being "deep" isn't a requirement to good television, nor does it automatically make television good *coughGirlMeetsWorldcough*

But like I said, I have a dedicated rant prepared just for that.

DCOM Grade: I guess a flat B. Maybe a B+ if I feel really generous. It really did feel like a lot of the better-quality old school DCOMs with a little bit of that 80s teen spirit updated for the late-Millennial/post-Millennial generation, so call it a rousing success in that regard and I guess an appropriate choice for the 100th DCOM. Considering the original source material (again, not exactly 80s teen comedy Citizen Kane), I think this is about as good as you're ever gonna get.

DCOM MVP: That light-blue one-piece Sofia wore for that one scene. I'm almost serious about this. But seriously, both Sabs and Sofia are good enough to get it rewarded, but if I'm allowed to show my bias I'm definitely picking Sofia. I know either Christian or Sean weren't that impressed with her on Descendants, but if you ask me I think she might very well be the most beautiful Disney Channel starlet in, well, the history of Disney Channel (don't get me wrong, Grace Phipps is in that general vicinity too). Yes even more than Debby Ryan (hey just because I have a really weird infatuation with her doesn't mean I can't think other Disney Channel stars are still hotter). I'm not entirely sure why I think this - she's neither the curviest starlet in Disney Channel history (that award probably ends up being a contest between Debby and Raven-Simone) nor the one with the most "traditional" supermodel-esque build (that probably handily goes to the also incredibly-no-matter-what stunning Zendaya) but there's just something about Sofia that says to me, hot damn, she's the purdiest Disney Channel starlet in the literal history of ever. Come to think of it she kind of reminds me of a Latina version of Elizabeth Gillies (Jade from Victorious). Regardless, we don't just gawk entirely at an actress' physical appearance and make all judgments based solely on that - Sofia's also a legitimately talented actor in that regard, too, and she certainly earned the MVP award strictly on merit. I just happen to also think she's really super-purdy, is all.

Extra Thoughts

 - yeah, I thought I'd go ahead and shove the bad news down here. With a final Nielsen Corp count of less than 3.5 million viewers "live," and when adjusted for demo patterns throughout Disney Channel's history (after all, Disney Channel was a premium cable channel until about halfway through the last decade or so), DC-AiB is the second-worst bomb in the entire history of DCOMs, beaten only by Johnny Kapahala: Back on Board's paltry 1.7 million or so viewers (that DCOM premiered the same year - same summer, in fact - as the highest-rated DCOM of all, HSM 2, which scored a whopping 17+ million "live" viewers which are basically numbers you only get with live sporting events i.e. the NFL - so yeah, JK:BoB had no friggin' excuse to reach such dismal numbers except for people deliberately tuning out either out of spite or extreme apathy). Even recent disappointments like the previous DCOM, Invisible Sister starring Sabs' GMW costar Rowan (a movie I thought thoroughly sucked by Mike thought was decent) managed to squeak out numbers breaking 4 million. This is pretty much the first DCOM in half a decade to dip below 4 million in viewership, the first DCOM in 9 years to dip below 3 1/2 million, and only the second DCOM in the history of DCOMs to do so. It's an auspicious achievement for the 100th DCOM, one that had an entire month-long event promoting it no less, and quite honestly one that this one doesn't deserve (again, I think if anything Invisible Sister is more deserving - or a bunch of other ones, for that matter). But considering that Disney Channel viewership has been dropping steadily since the Kidocalypse, I guess it's just a sign of changing demos. If Descendants 2 ends up only getting Teen Beach 2 numbers, it might mean the practical extinction of DCOMs as we know them (much like how you pretty much don't see series-based DCOMs anymore - the last one was Good Luck Charlie, it's Christmas and the closest since has been either the Shake it Up Made in Japan multi-cam "event," the Wizards of Waverly Place Alex vs Alex 1-hour multi-cam special and the three last episodes of Gravity Falls essentially edited and stitched together to form a pesudo-DCOM [it helps that animated shows tend to be single-cam by default thanks to the inherent magic of animation] - which incidentally I'm watching right now as I type this). Even if Descendants 2 ends up being a rousing success, and especially if Throw Like Mo and the other two non-musicals planned end up bombing, it might mean all future DCOMs end up being big HSM-esque musical numbers, and like back in 2013 we might only end up seeing one or two a year. It was also heavily promoted on Watch Disney Channel and OnDemand (I had after all seen it days before it's actual "premiere") but based around the online and DVR viewership of Teen Beach 2 and Descendants (both at around half a million at best) it's likely not nearly enough to make up for the lack of ratings success.

 - Speaking of DCOMs and DC-AiB happening to be the 100th, I guess it's as appropriate a DCOM to have that distinction as any, plot and quality-wise at least. Again, it does have the spirit of both the better of the early/old-school DCOMs nostalgia-obsessives on the GMW IMDb board constantly cry on about and the 80s teen coms equally nostalgia-obsessed morons also constantly cry about. I don't know if another big musical number like say the upcoming HSM 4 or the aforementioned Descendants 2 would be more "appropriate," given that everybody now mostly remembers Disney Channel as being the teeny-bopper pop star music factory for over a solid decade now, or with Descendants 2 also having the Disney "canon" tie-in, but eh I'll be more than happy to take it. Again, I'm just glad it isn't Invisible Sister.

 - Again continuing the topic, apparently the fact that DC-AiB ended up being the 100th DCOM caught nearly everybody unaware (yeah they don't exactly really keep on top of this stuff). Judging by their reactions Sabs and Sofia apparently became aware of this when they were directly told this as part of a Radio Disney interview when they were shooting the "Wildside" lyrics video, which at the earliest was when DC-AiB was already in post-editing. Either way, the point being is that there wasn't like some decree from Disney Channel execs saying that the honor of being the 100th DCOM must go to a remake of a cheesy 80s teen comedy for some reason. It just happened, a fact that was realized well after the movie had already been made.

 - For that matter DC-AiB had been in the works and Development Hell for over a decade, originally conceived as a buddy flick starring Raven-Simone and Miley Cyrus. Being caught in Development Hell isn't exactly strange for big Disney productions anymore - see Frozen in particular, originally a project started by Walt Disney himself back when the latest in animation technology was a guy bending over a drawing table - but it's relatively rare for television projects especially on a channel like this. If for some reason it doesn't look like it'll work out, especially early in production, it just gets dumped and people move on. I guess someone at Disney Channel was just that dedicated to remaking AiB.

 - There's also apparently some controversy regarding whether or not DC-AiB really is the 100th DCOM. It's not counting either 16 Wishes or Nancy Drew: Blog Wars (fair enough, since those were actually co-productions started by outside vendors and then Disney Channel brought in later) but it's also not counting some of the first made-for-TV movies to actually feature the "A Disney Channel Original Movie" opening title card (including the very first, something called Northern Lights). Depending on who you talk to and what movies you include, the actual 100th DCOM is between the four of Cloud 9, Zapped, How to Build a Better Boy (if it were up to me, and again based solely on the criterion of what I like the best, this'd be my preference) and Bad Hair Day.

4 comments:

  1. At the very least, "Wildside" is pretty catchy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll need to watch it again but as of now, it was alright

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes it seems "alright" is the best TV can hope for nowadays.

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    2. "Alright" is my default opinion for Disney Channel Content.

      Delete

So we might be sparse on updates/posts for a while (also Andi Mack mini-review, whatever the hell episode # it is)

I'm taking a month-long summer course as a prerequisite for career advancement, and well I don't know what Mike's doing but if h...