Throwback Thirty – For Keeps (1988)

220px-for_keeps_poster5_star_rating_system_2_stars Oh Molly Ringwald. Is there a more appropriate symbol for 1980s teen movies than you? With your gorgeously bouncy red hair and your girl next door attitude, you were the person young girls dreamed of being. Although, if I’m honest, I’m more of an Ally Sheedy type myself but I still have a lot of love for you and your hair. In fact, every few months or so, mostly after I’ve rewatched The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink, I have a strong desire to chop all of my hair off into a bob and dye it ginger. You’re still an icon now and continue to inspire teenagers to this day. Especially as the hispters out there discover that pop culture in the 80s is amazing and try to take it for their own.

For Keeps tackles the tricky subject of teen pregnancy and the impact it has on the lives of everyone involved. Darcy (Molly Ringwald) is the editor of her High School newspaper and is all set to go to college and become a writer. Her boyfriend, Stan (Randall Batinkoff) is set to attend Caltech on a scholarship to study architecture. Until a romantic weekend away leads them on a different path. When Darcy finds out she is pregnant, their families urge them to consider abortion or adoption but this only spurs the teenagers on. The pair move into a dingy apartment, illegally get married, and take part-time jobs to survive. As the bills start piling up and their responsibilities increase, will they decide that being teenage parents was something neither was ready for? Or will their love for each other conquer all?

For a brief time I really thought For Keeps was going to be a fantastic movie. It looked as though it was going to be looking at the consequences of teenage pregnancy from every angle and really start a dialogue. Instead, it ended up being a cliché riddled romantic-comedy that feels more like a cheap made for TV movie. It’s super disappointing when this could have been a realistic portrayal of two teenagers attempting to start a life together. Instead we just have to sit through the predictable plot twists and wait for the fairytale ending to come along.

It is only the compelling performance of Molly Ringwald in the role of Darcy that prevents this film being a complete bore. This was clearly the start of her journey into more mature roles and it is a change that works really well. She manages to make Darcy feel like a character you would want to be despite the situation she ends up in. This isn’t a film that promotes the idea of having a baby as a teenager but you understand that Darcy is the kind of girl who could have done anything she wanted to.

It’s just shame she doesn’t get the chance to do more. The story is so scant and thin that there is little room for growth. Take the scenes where Ringwald is suffering from Post-natal depression as an example. She clearly has the acting skills to take this somewhere but it is something that is glossed over with no real exploration. It’s as if the writers got scared about being too real so went back to something easier to swallow. It’s such a shame considering the great film that this could have been.

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