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Why the book is better than the movie

The Babysitter’s Club: Memories, movies and misguided misfits

 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.

The Babysitter’s Club. And they rap, too! (But they really shouldn’t) (Photo credit: fanpop.com)

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)

To be able to grow a beard – what Kristy most likely wished for in the movie on her birthday as she blew out the candles. (Photo credit: tbs.com)

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.

My bad, “sulty she-devil” is just her typical look. (Photo credit: greenobles.com)

• 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!

“Of course I’m creative!” *Points exasperatedly to parrot earrings* “I’m wearing parrot earrings.” (Photo credit: artfire.com)

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?

Is it uncomfortable in here or is it just me?

 “It could have been worse.”

Those are words you might hear uttered from the mouth of someone who actually paid to see “Joyful Noise” in the movie theater this past week. The same could be said by those who saw the final installation of the “Transformers” trilogy last summer. (Yes, it was too horrible.) Or, for the more romance-inclined – “Mama Mia.”

I pose this question to those of you who have seen one (or all) of the aforementioned movies: COULD it have been?

Could it have been REALLY?

Parents everywhere are asking themselves, "Why didn't we urge our children to play more video games?!"

This is not your kids’ band performance you were forced to go to here. You chose this fate for yourself, or because your significant other made you go to the movie, upon which hopefully you used some sort of bargaining chip. (Sure I’ll go to Transformers, just as long as you agree to wear that lumberjack outfit to bed every third Friday of the month.)

Racy.

And you can’t just shrug these fiascos off apathetically because you don’t have an opinion either way or because you arbitrarily flock to the mundane and mediocre. God forbid you actually enjoy bad movies like “Shark Night,” which is awesome, ahem, I mean terrible. I urge you not to go rent buy it immediately for your sweetie. Seriously, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. The movie goes well with the biggest bottle of wine and sense of humor you can find.

More like good times have surfaced!

I haven’t seen “Joyful Noise” so I honestly can’t place judgment there but based off the preview that forced its way into my line of vision and ears, I can assure you that the storyline is anything but delightful, at least to anyone under the age of 60. However, I can see where a more defining title like “Pitchy ‘Racket’” wouldn’t be as marketable.

The previous thoughts floated around in my mind after I was asked a question by a friend the other day: Would you rather go see “Joyful Noise” or eat two of (he later changed it to three) McDonalds’ Filet-O-Fish?

It really gets down to this. Although that question wasn’t even debatable (pass me the tartar sauce), it led me to wonder what other types of comparisons could be out there that are capable of making the answerer squirm in discomfort at their very thought. I’ve taken the liberty of compiling some of my favorites. Have any to add?

Would you rather…

  1. Shop solely at Wal-Mart or listen to Justin Bieber albums for the remainder of your life?
  2. Have the arms of a T-Rex or the neck of a giraffe?
  3. Be a member of Nickelback or their number one fan?
  4. Always be wrong or live in Iowa forever?
  5. Possess Mr. T’s acting abilities or fashion sense?
  6. Be a Canadian Mountie or Smokey the Bear (the mascot) (Yes, you’d be in parades either way)?

    Only YOU...can prevent more Canadian Mounties

Would you rather I stop making you feel so uncomfortable by asking these questions? Too bad – that’s not how the game works. (My blog. MINE.) However, these questions upon being answered, of course, bring to mind a completely different one:

Why?

Converse among yourselves.