After her boyfriend Mike unexpectedly cancels their anniversary date, Chris Parker invites her friend, Brenda, over to her Oak Park, Illinois house to cheer her up, but is eventually convinced by her mother to babysit the Andersons' daughter, 8-year-old Sara, while they attend a party at the Crain Communications Building in downtown Chicago. Fifteen-year-old Brad Anderson is originally supposed to go to his friend Daryl Coopersmith's house to spend the night, but he changes his mind when he finds that Chris is the sitter. After receiving a frantic phone call from Brenda, who ran away to the bus station downtown, using all of her money for the cab ride, Chris plans to go alone to pick her up, but is coerced by Brad, Sara and Daryl to take them with her. On the freeway, the Buick Electra station wagon suffers a flat tire and they are picked up by a kind tow truck driver, "Handsome" John Pruitt, who offers to pay for the tire when Chris realizes she left her purse at the Andersons'. En route, Pruitt gets a call from his boss Dawson with evidence that his wife is cheating on him, and he rushes to his house to confront the infidelity; Chris's mother's car is damaged when Pruitt accidentally shoots out the windshield with a revolver while aiming to kill his wife's lover. Chris and the kids hide in the adulterer's Cadillac, which is then car-jacked by a thief named Joe Gipp.
Reaching their hideout in the South Side, the kids realize they have stumbled upon a chop shop, and Joe is punched and chided by Graydon, the operation's second-in-command, for bringing potential witnesses. They are detained in an upstairs office but manage to escape over the rafters and through a window, whereas Joe spots them but does not alert Graydon. They enter a blues club where the band on stage won't let them leave until they sing the blues. Chris, Brad, Sara and Daryl recount their events so far that night to the cheers of the audience and are allowed to leave, successfully losing Graydon and his leader Bleak. Meanwhile, Brenda is having trouble of her own; after her glasses are stolen she mistakes a sewer rat for a kitten and is appalled when pest control points it out, as well as arguing with a hot dog salesman who only takes cash.
Brad tells Chris about his feelings toward her, but find they are not reciprocated because Brad is two years younger than she is. After separating Daryl from a streetwalker who is a runaway, Chris is reminded of Brenda. They are then found and chased again by Greydon and Bleak, but manage to escape on the Chicago 'L' train and wind up in the middle of a gang fight in which Brad is injured when one of the gang leaders throws a switchblade onto his foot. They take Brad to the hospital, where he receives a single stitch to his toe, while the rest are led to believe he had died. They run into Pruitt, who is now on the lam for his earlier attacks; he tells the kids he replaced the windshield, but they need to pay the mechanic $50 for the tire. The kids come across a fraternity house party and Chris meets and becomes attracted to Dan Lynch, a gentleman who learns of Chris' problem and donates $45. He takes them to Dawson's Garage and drops them off. When they find Dawson, his blond hair and sledge hammer leads Sara to believe he is her hero Thor. He coldly denies them their car because of the $5 shortage, but when Sara offers him her toy Thor helmet, he changes his mind and lets them go. Meanwhile, Joe Gipp told Bleak about their troubles and the three are waiting to follow them. The kids find the restaurant where Mike was supposed to take Chris and discover he is there with another girl. Sara slips away on her own to look at a toy store while Chris yells at Mike. Brad stands up for his friend while Daryl kicks Mike into a food cart, ruining the dinner. Meanwhile, Sara is spotted by Bleak, and Graydon chases her to an office building where she goes into hiding on a floor being renovated; the others note her disappearance and follow, accidentally coming across the Andersons' party. After Sara climbs out one of the open windows and slides down the building, Chris spots her and they run upstairs to help.
After pulling Sara from outside the window, Bleak confronts them, but Joe knocks his boss out, before giving him a Playboy Magazine that Daryl had stolen, which contained important notes that the criminals wanted. The kids hurriedly retrieve Brenda from the bus station and rush home, narrowly avoiding the Andersons on the way. Once back home, the kids go upstairs while Chris dismisses Brenda and cleans up the mess left earlier, settling into place just as the Andersons enter. Everything back to normal, Chris tells Sara that the night was her last babysitting gig, but all of them agree that it was the best night of their lives (so far) and that Brad and Chris are comfortable just remaining close friends. After Chris leaves, Dan arrives with one of Sara's missing skates. He says he needs a babysitter and is disappointed when Chris said she's retired; he then confesses that the babysitter was for him. Chris decides that retirement can wait and gladly agrees to babysit Dan. With Sara's encouragement (from the bedroom window), Chris and Dan laugh and kiss as Brad closes the blinds.
In a scene after the closing credits, Graydon is seen still stuck on the building ledge.Elisabeth Shue as Chris Parker
Keith Coogan as Brad Anderson
Anthony Rapp as Daryl Coopersmith
Maia Brewton as Sara Anderson
Penelope Ann Miller as Brenda
Bradley Whitford as Mike Todwell
Calvin Levels as Joe Gipp
George Newbern as Dan Lynch, a college student
John Davis Chandler as Bleak
Ron Canada as Graydon, Bleak's second in command
John Ford Noonan as "Handsome" John Pruitt
Albert Collins as himself; a player in a Chicago Blues club
Vincent D'Onofrio as Dawson
Southside Johnny Lyon as band leader at frat party
Lolita Davidovich as Sue Ann
Clark Johnson as gang leader
This was the eighth PG-13-rated film released by a Disney film division, and also the directorial debut of screenwriter Chris Columbus. It was released as A Night on the Town in the United Kingdom.
Valerie Bertinelli was one of the actresses who auditioned for the role of Chris Parker.
The film has been released on VHS, LaserDisc, DVD and Blu-ray formats. In the United States, it received a VHS release by Touchstone Home Video on July 14, 1992. It was released on DVD for the first time on January 18, 2000 by Touchstone Home Video. A 25th anniversary edition Blu-ray was released August 7, 2012.
Although it may still be referred to as A Night on the Town on television airings in the United Kingdom, the film has now been released in its original title. The VHS was released on October 21, 2002 in the United Kingdom by Cinema Club, it received a 15 certificate by the BBFC for strong language and sexual references, it was previously released in an edited PG certificate for family viewing. It was released on DVD in the United Kingdom on May 31, 2004, again uncut like the 15 certificate VHS, it has been reduced to a 12 certificate.
In 2015, Intrada Records released an album from the film, featuring the score by Michael Kamen, including unused music and several of the songs heard in the film.
- "Then He Kissed Me" - The Crystals (2:37)
- Halloween (4:53)
- Road Trip (2:33)
- Tire Blow Out (7:48)
- Runaway Truck (2:35)
- Joe Gipp (Chris Loses It) (1:11)
- Chop Shop (6:21)
- Chase To Albert's (3:27)
- "Babysitting Blues" - Albert Collins (4:00)
- Brenda And The Rat (3:09)
- The Rumble (4:44)
- Dead Car (2:05)
- Escape From Mr. Big (2:39)
- You're Weird (1:00)
- Was He Cool? (5:58)
- Where's Sara? (2:31)
- Rescue Sara (7:56)
- Grand Finale (1:33)
- "Twenty Five Miles" - Edwin Starr (3:19)
- "Just Can't Stop" - Percy Sledge (4:10)
- Piano Party Source (2:37)
- Restaurant Source (1:41)
The film has received positive reviews, and it currently earns a "fresh" 76% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 24 reviews.
The film was a box office success, earning more than $34.3 million on its $7 million budget.
The film was adapted into an unsold TV pilot of the same name for CBS in 1989. It starred Jennifer Guthrie (who would later co-star on Parker Lewis Can't Lose with Maia Brewton) as Chris, Joey Lawrence as Brad, Courtney Peldon as Sara, Brian Austin Green as Daryl, and Ariana Mohit as Brenda. It wasn't picked-up as a series.
Disney reportedly planned a remake for release in 2012. Raven-Symoné was to star in the remake, tentatively titled Further Adventures in Babysitting, but withdrew due to other projects. Miley Cyrus was also rumored to be attached to the project, but later denied involvement.
According to Variety, Tiffany Paulsen was writing the script. It was presumed that the remake was scrapped due to years of inactivity. However, on January 9, 2015, Disney Channel announced that the remake would go forward, with Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Carson starring as competing babysitters.