My girlfriends and I have had numerous girls’ nights throughout the years, all memorable and predictably filled with wine, cheese, lots of juicy gossip, jammies, and luckily – no arrests. Stealing a friend and whisking her away blindfolded from wedding planning is always a risky situation, especially should you happen to stop at a light next to a cop when doing so. And then wink at him exaggeratedly.
However, there’s always been something I felt missing from girls’ night, so when a VCR was brought to last Tuesday’s get together, the final piece of the puzzle also came into play. Like entering the 90s again, I was suddenly tempted to dig out my slap bracelet and stirrup pants and throw my hair up into a crimped, side topsy tail. After silently paying homage to my ancient black, neon pink and teal New Kids on the Block sweater (RIP), I turned my full attention on that bulky electronic box and the night’s main event:
The Babysitter’s Club movie.
Let me repeat.
The Babysitter’s Club MOVIE!!!!
Yup. Circa 1995.
If I had thought to bring my BSC board game, it would have killed the half hour it took to rewind the videocassette tape. Another ten minutes and we were successfully past previews for Matilda and Jumanji. A flash of nostalgia blinded me more than the abusively glaring lines of static plastered across the screen as we rewound again from fast forwarding too far. Anyone who says they’ve ever stopped a tape right at the beginning of the movie is a big fat liar.
The opening credits were just how I remembered videocassette credits to be – modestly devoid of pixels and full of wacky, neon-colored bubble fonts arranged diagonally with absolutely no thought of design. Magnificent. Combined with the occasional jump of the screen as it refocused itself repeatedly and the out-of-tune soundtrack momentarily deepening the voice of some Mickey Mouse Club singer to that of James Earl Jones and I was certain I didn’t even need to watch the movie anymore because I was in heaven.
The BSC movie characters were similar to the characters in the books I read as a kid, except entirely more embellished. I don’t know how that’s possible, either; Ann M. Martin must have been BFFs with Francine Pascal.
(“That horse isn’t dead yet, Ann – keep beating! You can get at least 500 more miles out of those character descriptors if you just rearrange them slightly per book! Look, instead of “blue-eyed,’ say ‘eyes the color of aquamarine and twice as deep.’ No, don’t use that – it’s mine now. God, I’m so poetic. How about ‘green-blue’? Or better yet — ‘blue-green!’ What’s writer’s block?” – Francine)
In the opening scene, Kristy tucks her (some say “tomboy;” I prefer “Al Borland-y”) button-down shirt into her (elastic-wasted) jeans, giving us a clear glimpse of over-sized boxers. What is rapidly becoming unclear is her gender preference. All these years, was Bart …a cover?
Good, I hated him anyway.
Mallory was introduced next, appearing at a coffee joint wearing a bow tie and suspenders, and lugging around a suitcase half the size of her in lieu of a purse or backpack. I’ll give you a moment to fully visualize.
The poor girl’s already an unathletic redhead! She can’t even go out in the sun! Give ‘er a break!
So, we’ve got a 16-year-old boy and an 80-year-old man, which was…unexpected. Then again, watching the movie at 10 years of age versus 26 does wonders in the way it’s comprehended. Overly-affectionate smiles and shoulder squeezes I thought were endearing then leave me still shuddering now.
I’ll spare you a play-by-play by instead listing some of my favorite parts of the movie, in which we only watched half because much like the 90s, the plot was over almost immediately.
• Cokie Mason, the popular, arch-enemy of the sitters, is played by Marla Sokoloff. You’d know her better as Stephanie’s foe on Full House. Why, yes – she does still wear knee-highs. It gets better. In the movie, she goes out of her way to approach stringy-haired, scraggly and awkward Logan, the only male babysitter of the group and long-term boyfriend of the ever-timid Mary Anne, played by Rachel Leigh Cook, no less. (Why, yes, she does still wear knee-highs.) Cokie squeezes Logan’s arm right in front of Mary Anne (How dare she!), telling him he must be working out, all with an R-rated, scandelous smirk on her face.
I suppose there’s really no surprise there. However, I’m pretty sure when I was 13, I was still making beaded necklaces and sand art jewelry, not flirting with boys with an evil plot to steal them away from girls in my class.
And excuse me, but like hell Cokie was cool enough to be into the Smashing Pumpkins. Probably couldn’t even name one song.
• Stacey’s has a date with Luca, a European who doesn’t seem to have an accent…at all. I know this was filmed in the 90s, but trying is still ok every once and awhile.
Their date sequence was enhanced by the song “Let’s Get Busy,” in which those three words were repeatedly and suggestively sang at the end of each scene. Kicker: She’s 13 and Luca is 17. Hey, 90s – you don’t have to be so creepy all the time, either.
• Jackie Rodowsky on a horse? Please.
• Stacey is so nervous before her date that she asks her mom if she should change her socks. Note: if you’re wearing a short skirt with socks, the design or color of your socks is not going to improve your look, of that I can assure you.
• Dawn totally owned the long flowered skirt with a pastel T-shirt and faded denim vest look. My thirteen-year-old self from the past is still trying extremely hard to not be jealous.
• Kristy’s deadbeat dad is pretty cute when you’re watching the movie as an adult. I am so disturbed right now.
• Those girls carry Kid Kits everywhere. EVERYWHERE. To the movies, to get ice cream, to first base with Stacey. Man, they don’t miss a beat. I guess you never know when you’ll need a “Good Job” sticker.
• I applaud the director’s ability to combine about 100 books into one movie. Granted, we didn’t see the end, so who knows how long it actually was. It could still be playing now. A couple movie titles I would suggest instead of the ever-generic Babysitter’s Club would be:
o Stacey’s first pregnancy scare
o Claudia almost learns basic math
o Kristy comes out
o Mallory’s big chess tournament
o Dawn tries nachos
o Jessi…who’s Jessi?
o Mary Anne learns to knit knee-highs
o Logan looks bewildered (again)!
My girlfriends and I spent the remainder of the night arguing over who gets to be whom for Halloween next year. The problem is that everyone wants to be Stacey, no matter who you are. Yes, even Logan. I bet if you took a poll, three fourths of the woman who read these books would STILL want to be Stacey because life didn’t turn out the way they thought it would. Yay, superficiality!
The books sold us the dream, but damned if the movie didn’t make that dream so eerily inappropriate on many levels. Then again, it may have been the slight bitterness of the wine facilitating these opinions that night.
With my love of candy and artistic skills, I’d most likely be cast as Claudia. If so, I’m going to need some parrot earrings and the ability to make awesome fork wind chimes STAT. Oh, and does anyone have a colorful scrunchie with plastic dinosaurs glued to it I can borrow?