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Joseph V. Amodio, McClatchy Newspapers, Published December 08 2011

Lessons from the best baby-sitter movies of all time

The baby-sitter movie. It’s a small but satisfying genre of films, and Jonah Hill stars in the latest, “The Sitter,” opening today.

Hollywood seemingly can’t get enough of sitters, male or female, who get lampooned (or harpooned) on a regular basis on the big screen. But at least, by the time the credits roll, the audience walks away with some valuable tips of the trade.

Here are a few things we’ve learned from four of the best baby-sitter movies of all time.

“Halloween” (1978)

RULE: Listen to the kiddies

Baby-sitter Jamie Lee Curtis ignores little Tommy when he says he saw “the bogeyman” outside the house. Uh-huh. She’ll regret that later.

“Uncle Buck” (1989)

RULE: Watch your language

John Candy’s your typical lazy bachelor slob who winds up watching his brother’s kids (including a pre-“Home Alone” Macaulay Culkin). The John Hughes comedy reminds us that li’l urchins repeat what you say, like Maizy, who explains to her teacher that her uncle had to microwave her socks because “he can’t get the goddamn washing machine to work.”

“When a Stranger Calls” (1979)

RULE: Don’t answer the phone – ever!

A relic of simpler times, when phones had dials and no Caller ID. When baby-sitter Carol Kane starts getting eerie phone calls (“Have you checked the children?”), she does everything right: She calls the police and arms herself. It’s all about the first 25 minutes (some of the most chilling in film history); the rest of the movie comes apart.

“Adventures in Babysitting” (1987)

RULE: Be ready for anything, including the blues

Baby-sitter Elisabeth Shue and three kids in her care wind up on a rollicking ride through Chicago, surviving a blowout, shootout, gang fight and more, plus a cameo from blues legend Albert Collins (the “Babysitting Blues” number alone is worth the rental). This Chris Columbus comedy is a cult fave and arguably the best of all baby-sitter films. Short of “Mary Poppins,” of course. But then, she was more of a nanny.