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Cinemalphabet: F is for For Keeps (1988)

October 14, 2011

It must have seen like a good idea to Molly Ringwald and her agent at the time: a role that provided an opportunity for Ringwald to spread her acting wings beyond the John Hughes oeuvre. Unfortunately, For Keeps was one of a string of late 80s duds that essentially ended Ringwald’s charmed career. Fresh Horses and The Pick-up Artist anyone?

For Keeps? isn’t a terrible film; it’s just a cheesy, melodramatic film that takes itself way too seriously. The premise – two wacky kids in love and devoid of sex education who wind up with a baby and a janky apartment – is rendered silly by a script that is unsure of what it wants to be or what it has to say. Is being a teen mom a comedy? A tragedy? Should we root for the kids to make it or hope they fail so they’ll go back home to their parents? For Keeps? is just not sure. The leads aren’t any more certain either. They attempt to run the gamut of reasonable responses to the situations the script places them in, but neither actor is capable of rising above the material.

What’s more For Keeps? is hokey as hell. An early scene has Darcy (Ringwald) and her overbearing mom – played with aplomb by Miriam Flynn – enjoying a French meal (because Darcy’s mom thinks eating French foods while speaking French during dinner is fancy) and the exchange occurs:

Darcy’s Mom: How do you find the wine? (in French, of course)
Darcy: I just look to my left and there it is. (also in French)

Okay, that exchange is the most memorable thing about the film and pretty much the only thing I remember about that made me laugh out loud. Maybe, I just have a weird sense of humor. Of course, not all the film's attempts at comedy are successful:

    And for some reason, they got married in a Korean church by a minister with a super heavy accent, and just for comic relief, they couldn’t understand what vows they were supposed to repeat! Classic cultural comedy. What is it with 80s films and random scenes involving Asian people that the main characters can’t understand? Was that really considered funny for awhile? And not, you know…racist?.

– (via The Blogulator)

Let’s talk about Molly Ringwald’s bizarre hair extensions, which serve as character development; she cuts her hair in some kind of pregnant hormonal fit of sadness. These bad hair extensions haunt me in my sleep. They reminded me of Julia Roberts’ extensions in Sleeping with the Enemy. I couldn’t stop laughing about Ringwald’s hair! This is not good for your serious examination of the repercussions of teen pregnancy! I’ve gone as long as I could without mentioning Molly’s co-star Randall Batinkoff who I just assumed disappeared from the planet after this film. Apparently, home dude is still working. I hope his acting has gotten better, because as Stan, the teen father he came across as a bargain basement 80s version of Robbie Benson. And that is not a compliment.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. IrishUp permalink
    October 14, 2011 9:56 pm

    “These bad hair extensions haunt me in my sleep. ”

    At the time I thought For Keeps? was ok (once you get past the fact that IRL, late teens in the 80s from that background got on a bus to PP). The fact it was all over the place seemed to match the age and stage and sitch. Granted, I have not seen it since, not even on cable. The really sad thing? Nobody’s made any improvements to the teen pregnancy movie yet. Although Juno certainly had better *acting*, I’m not sure it explored any new territory. And “Immediate Family” did a better job with the adoption. Or maybe it’s just my eternal crush on Mary Stuart Masterson.

  2. October 17, 2011 10:25 am

    I’m ashamed to admit……I saw this in theaters. But my sisters dragged me to it kicking and screaming the whole way! Isn’t it lovely that the film has a happy upbeat ending? Just like in real life when teenagers get pregnant…….they get the fairly tale version.

  3. chantell permalink
    December 16, 2011 6:33 am

    I think this movie rocks and Molly’s hair looked great.It has and always will be my #1 fav…

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