Wednesday, February 3, 2016

For Keeps?

Year 8, Day 34 - 2/3/16 - Movie #2,235

BEFORE: Yup, it's Molly Ringwald week (OK, half-week) as I catch up on 80's films.  I'm guessing this one is referred to as "The One Where Molly Ringwald Gets Pregnant", as opposed to "The One Where Molly Ringwald Turns 16", "The One Where Molly Ringwald Gets Married" or "The One Where Molly Ringwald Finally Does a Topless Scene".  Hey, some people have trouble remembering titles, I get it. 

Here's a look at tomorrow's TCM "31 Days of Oscar" programming, with the 360 degree connections:

Carole Landis carries over from "One Million B.C." to:
"Topper Returns" with H.B. Warner carrying over to:
"The Green Goddess" with Ralph Forbes carrying over to:
"Stage Door" with Gail Patrick carrying over to:
"My Favorite Wife" with Randolph Scott carrying over to:

"Captain Kidd" with John Qualen carrying over to:
"A Patch of Blue" with Elizabeth Hartman carrying over to:
"You're a Big Boy Now" with Julie Harris carrying over to:
"East of Eden" with Jo Van Fleet carrying over to:
"Cool Hand Luke" with George Kennedy carrying over to:
"The Dirty Dozen" with Ernest Borgnine carrying over to:
"The Wild Bunch" with Warren Oates carrying over to:
"The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond" with Ray Danton carrying over to:
"A Majority of One"

Of these 13 films, I've seen 6 - I watched "My Favorite Wife" last year in my Cary Grant chain, and I've also watched "Stage Door", "East of Eden", "Cool Hand Luke", "The Dirty Dozen" and "The Wild Bunch" as part of this project.  So I still haven't found anything to record this year, which is a good thing, because that would only increase my watchlist at a time when I'm really trying to shrink it down.  

THE PLOT: After she gets pregnant, a teenage girl must decide whether she should keep the baby.

AFTER: You can sort of take this film however you want, either as a relationship film featuring a young couple and a baby, or as a treatise on the socio-economic conditions in Kenosha, Wisconsin in the mid-1980's.  If you're pro-choice, it's an honest depiction of the difficulties that couples who choose to have children may face, and if you're pro-life, it supports the notion that abortion is "icky" and it's better to just have the kid and tough things out.  Or, you may choose to view this as an updated version of O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi", only with college scholarships on the line instead of Christmas gifts.

Because unlike the last two films I watched, where Robert Downey played very selfish central characters, both characters here are unselfish, even to a fault.  Either would give up their own happiness to make sure that the other one is able to live out their dreams.  Which raises an interesting dilemma, should a person give up the relationship that they're in, if they're happy with it but their partner is not?  Neither one seems to take into account that things are going to change over time, people are likely to go through periods where they're down on relationships or parenthood, but that there are also ways to pull out of that funk.  

The other problem here seems to be the parents, her mother and his parents don't seem to be on the same page, each projecting their own experiences on to their daughter and son.  Since Darcy's mother was abandoned by her father after she was born, she naturally expects her daughter's husband to do the same.  Plus she's one of those mothers that tries to be her daughter's best friend, when what she really needs is some form of discipline and concrete advice instead of "Hey, let's go on vacation together."  Stan's parents have a more stable relationship, so to them getting pregnant before marriage is putting the cart before the horse, plus they're still holding out hope that their son will go to Cal Tech. (Am I missing something, are there no architecture schools in Wisconsin?)  

The school's guidance counselor is similarly not very supportive, her suggestion to a pregnant student is to transfer to night classes, for fear of setting off an epidemic of pregnancy among the other students.  This seems like terrible advice, but there have been cases in the U.S. of teen girls conspiring to get pregnant at the same time, I guess if one popular girl does it, then it can become a trend.  

(For the record, I am neither pro-choice or pro-life - because I'm blessed/cursed with the ability to see both sides of an issue.  While I am concerned that there are so many abortions in the world, I also understand that the planet is over-populated, so new people shouldn't be brought into the world if they're unwanted and unable to be taken care of.  What I am against, however, is the mindset that only the pro-choice or the pro-life argument can be correct, and that each argument needs to be yelled very loudly at the opposing side.  Can't there be some middle ground, like supporting a woman's right to choose by helping her to not get pregnant in the first place, if she doesn't want to? But no, it's as divisive an issue as they come, here in the U.S. where every hot-button topic needs to be championed to the extreme.) 

Their classmates aren't represented well here either, particularly the blonde "Mean Girl", Michaela, who exists only to tease the pregnant girl, make a pass at the married Stan, and to pass along a piece of information that needed to be known, but in all cases, her acting ability is just horrible, nearly non-existent.  At no point is she capable of making herself sound like a character, and not an actress delivering a line. 

It's high time someone made a sequel to this film, because the baby character born in 1988 would now be 28 years old (good God...) and even if things went well in her childhood, if Darcy and Stan found a way to make it all work, maybe now Thea's all grown up, a working professional in the Detroit area, who gets sidelined in a similar way by her own pregnancy, with her (let's say) no-good hipster boyfriend.  Make it happen, Hollywood.  Wait, it sounds too much like "Knocked Up".  Never mind.  

Also starring Randall Batinkoff (last seen in "The Peacemaker"), Kenneth Mars (last heard in "The Little Mermaid"), Miriam Flynn, Conchata Ferrell (last seen in "Mr. Deeds"), Sharon Brown (last seen in "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit"), John Zarchen, Pauly Shore (last seen in "Jury Duty"), Michelle Downey, Renee Estevez, with a cameo from Larry Drake (last seen in "Darkman").

RATING: 4 out of 10 golumpkis

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