Cinemalphabet: F is for For Keeps (1988)
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.