American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
Someday when they write the history of movies in the 1980s, maybe they will be able to explain why Chicago somehow inherited the crown of teenage movie capital of the world. In the golden days of the beach-party movies, all teenagers lived in California, or sometimes in New York or in some strange back-lot version of Middle America. Nobody ever lived in Chicago, certainly not teenagers.
But today you could put together a list of 25 major films about teenagers from Chicago or Chicago suburbs, from "Damien: Omen II" to "The Breakfast Club," from "Sixteen Candles" to "Risky Business," from "Lucas" to "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." And here comes "Adventures in Babysitting," which combines the central ideas from two of those movies: The teenage hero goes on a tour of Chicago (from "Ferris Bueller") and is in danger of getting into a lot of trouble unless she can get back home before the grown-ups (from "Risky Business").
The heroine is played by Elisabeth Shue, from "The Karate Kid" (1984), and this time she's a baby-sitter who is entrusted with a small girl and ends up also baby-sitting for a couple of teenage boys only a few years younger than she is. The parents leave for a party in the city, and Shue gets a call from her best girlfriend, who has decided to run away from home and has gotten as far as the central bus station before losing her nerve. Now the girlfriend is desperate. She's broke and in big trouble and wants Shue to come and rescue her.
Well, what else can Shue do? So she packs her three charges into the car and drives into Chicago, where she gets a flat tire, is given a lift by an insane tow-truck driver, and enters into a series of misadventures. For example: The car is commandeered by a car thief. He takes them to a chop shop. Mobsters lock them in an office. They escape by creeping along a girder. They end up onstage in a South Side blues club. And so on.