Pregnancy At Its Worst

Posted: January 15, 1988

The story line of Tri-Star Pictures' "For Keeps," starring Molly Ringwald and Randall Batinkoff, might play in a small town like Kenosha, Wis. But as far as big-city reality, it's a bust.

Kenosha is where we meet Darcy Elliot and Stan Bobrucz, two crazy-in-love 17-year-olds on their way to college and bright futures as prize-winning journalist and architect, respectively.

These kids are so wholesome they squeak. They are so virtuous they've waited 2 1/2 years to Do It. They are so responsible she's "been on the Pill for forever" (only to regulate her menstrual cycle, not to have sex, at least not initially). But horror of horrors, Darcy gets pregnant anyway. And that's where the romantic comedy part is supposed to kick in.

Considering the statistics - there are 20,000 teen-age pregnancies per week in this country, according to the film - and the quadruple jeopardy of being 17, pregnant, unwed and unemployed, the term romantic comedy and teen-age pregnancy should not be allowed in the same sentence, let alone the same movie. It just ain't funny. And neither is "For Keeps."

But oh, how it tries to be. It's supposed to be funny when they get married by an Asian minister who barely speaks English. It's supposed to be funny when Stan gives Darcy a wedding band that bends. It's supposed to be funny when the landlady refers to the un-enclosed toilet in the middle of their soon-to-be- rented rattrap apartment as "the Jacuzzi."

Unfortunately, rather than laughing, anybody with half a brain is going to be wondering when Darcy and Stan - with a net worth of $900 and six Big Mac coupons - are going to stop playing house and grow up.

In its attempt to appeal to the teen-age market, "For Keeps" gives ''preachiness" wide berth. In the process it trivializes and romanticizes a very serious situation. This review feels that the teen audience is indeed savvy enough to deserve better than the candy-coated mess that's served up on the screen. The only time the believability quotient of this film goes up is when it suggests that having a baby when you're still a baby could indeed alter your life. But it's only a suggestion.

As with most teen films, the significant adults - i.e. parents - are portrayed as idiots who have to be redeemed by the young. So you have abortion advocate Mrs. Elliot (Miriam Flynn), whose main concern is her summer vacation in Paris, and adoption advocate Mr. Bobrucz (Kenneth Mars), who disowns his son for accepting his fatherly responsibility, thus relinquishing his full- scholarship to Cal Tech.

But not to worry. The kids get their diplomas and go to college. The parents make up with the kids and fall in love with the granddaughter, and all's well that ends well in Kenosha.

Hooray for Hollywood.

*

FOR KEEPS: Romantic comedy starring Molly Ringwald, Randall Batinkoff and Kenneth Mars. Written by Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue. Directed by John G. Avildsen. Running time: 98 minutes. A Tri-Star Pictures release. Parental guide: Rated PG-13.

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