What the Hell Happened to Elisabeth Shue?
Elisabeth Shue was the girl friend to the Karate Kid and Marty McFly. She had babysitting adventures and cocktails with Tom Cruise. In the 90s, she was an Academy Award nominee for Leaving Las Vegas, but then she disappeared from the spotlight until recently.
What the hell happened?
Shue got her start on the 1984 TV show, Call to Glory starring Craig T Nelson as an air force pilot in the 1960s. The family drama was inspired by the success of Top Gun and based loosely on The Right Stuff. However, the show was cancelled after the first season due to low ratings.
That same year, Shue starred opposite Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita in The Karate Kid.
The Karate Kid is basically Rocky for the teenage set. This is not surprising given that it was directed by Rocky director, John Avildsen.
As a 13-year-old, The Karate Kid was irresistible to me. I loved the story of an underdog roughly my own age who not only beat the odds but got the girl. I was instantly smitten with Shue’s fresh-faced California cheerleader. In my opinion, Daniel-san was playing way out of his league. I nearly signed up for karate classes as soon as I left the theater.
The Karate Kid was a surprise hit that summer. Three sequels and a remake followed. But Shue doesn’t appear in any of them, so we will speak of them no more.
In 1986, Shue paid her dues in the British horror film, Link opposite General Zod himself, Terrence Stamp.
The movie was yet another Jaws rip-off only this time with chimps. It wouldn’t be the last time Shue would star in a Jaws rip-off as it turns out.
Hysterically, the “chimp” in Link was played by an orangutan with its fur dyed brown. Shue was nominated for a Saturn Award for being a hot chick terrorized by a monkey in the fine tradition of Faye Wray and Jessica Lange.
In 1987, Shue starred in Chris Columbus’ kiddie comedy, Adventures in Babysitting.
Shue starred as a babysitter who takes her charges on the road to rescue her best friend played by Penelope Ann Miller. Along the way they encounter the kind of criminals who appear in PG-13 Disney movies (of which, Adventures was the first), sing at a blues club and encounter a mechanic who bears a striking resemblance to Thor (played by Vincent D’Onofrio).
In spite of being extremely silly or maybe because of it, Adventures in Babysitting got mostly good reviews and was a hit at the box office. It was later adapted into a TV pilot which was never picked up. A rumored remake has been in the works but has yet to receive a green light.
In 1998, Shue paired with the biggest star in Hollywood at the time, a post-Top Gun Tom Cruise.
Cruise played a cocky bartender with a killer smile and Shue played the rich girl who falls for him. Her father doesn’t want her dating a bartender even if he does have a million-dollar grin. Clichés ensue.
The story was largely besides the point. All that mattered was that Cruise and Shue looked fantastic in the tropical setting. Together, they threatened to take over the world through the sheer wattage of their brilliant smiles.
The movie soundtrack unleashed both Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and the Beach Boy’s “Kokomo” on the world. It’s a wonder pop culture survived.
Shue followed up Cocktail by appearing in Back to the Future 2 and 3 despite not having appeared in Back to the Future. The role of Jennifer, Marty McFly’s girlfriend, was played by Claudia Wells in Back to the Future. But when she dropped out of the sequels, Shue stepped in. UPGRADE!
The original George McFly (Crispin Glover) was also replaced for the sequels. Time travel’s funny that way I guess.
The original Back to the Future was a huge hit with critics and audience who practically demanded a sequel. To accommodate Michael J. Fox’s schedule on Family Ties, the sequels were shot back-to-back during the summer hiatus.
Unfortunately, the first film had ended with Marty taking Jennifer into the future, so the character had to be included in the sequels. Wells was unavailable to reprise the role, it was recast. The writers didn’t have anything in mind for Jennifer to do in the sequel, so she was rendered unconscious for most of the film.
The sequels got mixed to positive reviews and were not quite as successful as the original. But they were still financially successful.
Posted on March 23, 2011, in Movies, What the Hell Happened? and tagged adventures in babysitting, back to the future, cocktail, csi, elisabeth shue, entertainment, hollow man, karate kid, movies, piranha, the saint. Bookmark the permalink. 89 Comments.