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Adventures in babysitting (Michael Kamen – 1987)

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Adventures in babysitting (Michael Kamen – 1987)


Michael Kamen is not yet a name I get excited for whenever a new release comes out. Even if his music was featured in some of my favorite action franchises from the 80s like “Die hard” or “Lethal weapon” and he started “X-men” as well, I’ve had a hard time connecting with him. He also scored a bunch of interesting horror films and yet my fondest memory of him is from when he directed the Metallica “S&M” concert in San Francisco. “Adventures in babysitting” is not a film I would usually associate with this composer. It’s the story of a girl who agrees to a last-minute babysitting job in the Chicago suburbs. Her main responsibility is to look after Sara, a precocious 10-year-old who is obsessed with the Marvel Comics hero Thor. In the bargain, she has to deal with the clumsy advances of Sara’s love-struck older brother and his horndog friend, Daryl . Things are complicated by an unexpected adventure.

The cold and sharp sound I always had a hard time connecting with comes at me right from the opening cue “Halloween” and this doesn’t help. Sounds like something taken from “The dead zone”. I must admit it is ominous and worrying but not at all melodic. Only way I can enjoy this cue is if I think of “The terminator”.

Fortunately the tone of the score changes down the road. This is an adventure comedy after all so Michael Kamen tries to go with it. His brand of adventure keeps that Kamen seriousness and abrasiveness; it’s like trying to get a metallic creature with hooks for hands to gently caress a kid. You will have trouble succeeding and his music is usually like that. I am struggling to find a nugget of tenderness or melodicism, something warm to cuddle up to.

There are moments when I feel alive and inspired though. “Runaway truck” is the first really exciting cue and I could work with this. I actually replayed it. It’s alert and gripping and I liked it. There are funky and amusing moments in “The rumble” that come out of the rather dark and linear overall mood of the score. Then there’s “You’re weird” which tingles my 80s nostalgia with a short but so sweet pop montage that sends me back to my favorite decade. It helps alleviate the frustration I feel sometimes during this score. The “Grand finale” shines an exciting and fun light and at least ends this score on a high for me.

“Adventures in babysitting” isn’t the score to make me warm up to Michael Kamen’s music. I’m sure there will be more occasions in the future.

Cue rating: 72 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 5 / 65

Album excellence: 8%


Runaway truck

You’re weird

Grand finale

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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