For Keeps (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John G. Avildsen|
|Produced by||Jerry Belson
|Written by||Denise DeClue
|Music by||Bill Conti|
|Edited by||John G. Avildsen|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Running time||98 min|
|Box office||$17,514,554 (USA)|
For Keeps is a 1988 American coming of age comedy drama film starring Molly Ringwald and Randall Batinkoff as Darcy and Stan, two high school seniors in love. Complications ensue when Darcy becomes pregnant just before graduation and decides to keep her baby. This movie is noted for being Ringwald's final "teen" movie, and is cited as one of her most mature performances, particularly in a scene where Darcy is suffering from postpartum depression after the birth of her child. It has been regarded as one of Ringwald's best roles.
In Kenosha, Wisconsin, Darcy, editor at her high school paper, and her long-term boyfriend Stan are in their final year of high school and already have been accepted at good colleges; before Darcy goes to college to study journalism, she'll go on a trip to Paris with her mother for her graduation present, while Stan will go to Caltech to study architecture. With the help of Darcy's best friend Lila (Sharon Brown), they spend a weekend together, where they sleep together and Darcy becomes pregnant. They announce the news at Thanksgiving, and neither Darcy's mother Donna (Flynn), who was abandoned by her husband and brought up Darcy alone, nor Stan's Catholic parents (Mars and Ferrell) are very supportive. Respectively, they urge the young couple to have an abortion or give up the baby for adoption. Darcy plans to have the abortion, but doesn't go through with it, to Stan's relief.
At Christmas, the kids announce their plans to keep the baby, causing a break between them and their parents. They rent a decrepit apartment and get married to the cheers of their friends. On the advice of her guidance counselor, Darcy drops out of high school but works toward her GED. Prom is interrupted by Darcy's water breaking; although baby Thea is healthy, Darcy suffers from post-partum depression, unable to even hold her daughter, and Stan struggles to pay the bills on a part-time job salary. Only when Darcy hears an intruder (who turns out to be Stan's father) and picks up her baby protectively, does she break from her depression.
Without telling Darcy, Stan sacrifices his Caltech scholarship because there is no married housing. Although Stan takes a second, dead-end job, the bills pile up and the couple finally moves in with Donna, which alienates Stan and Darcy, and causes Stan to start drinking heavily. Local vixen Michaela (Michelle Downey) informs Darcy of the scholarship deception so she enlists Stan's best friend Chris (John Zarchen) in a plan to ensure he take the scholarship and go to college after all. Unfortunately, the plan entails throwing out Stan and annulling the marriage. Stan reconciles with his parents, but is heartbroken over the split with Darcy.
At Darcy's night school graduation, Stan arrives to inform Darcy he has applied for scholarships to University of Wisconsin–Madison for them both. Darcy lets slip her role in the Caltech deception with Chris and Stan chases after her as she drives away. Darcy realizes her mother's own insecurities have influenced her too much and she returns to the empty school looking for Stan. They reconcile, remarking Thea will have a very early curfew and will not be allowed to date until she turns 18.
- Molly Ringwald as Darcy Elliot Bobrucz
- Randall Batinkoff as Stan Bobrucz
- Kenneth Mars as Mr. Bobrucz
- Miriam Flynn as Donna Elliot
- Conchata Ferrell as Mrs. Bobrucz
- Sharon Brown as Lila
- John Zarchen as Chris
- Pauly Shore as Retro
- Michelle Downey as Michaela
- Patricia Barry as Adoption Official
- Janet MacLachlan as Miss Giles
- Jaclyn-Rose Lester as Mary Bobrucz (as Jaclyn Bernstein)
- Matthew Licht as Lou Bobrucz
- Renée Estevez as Marnie
- Darcy DeMoss as Elaine
The film had a number of titles while in production, possibilities including "Maybe, Baby" (by which it is known in some overseas territories) and "For Keeps?", before settling on the final question mark-less version.
The promising career of John Zarchen, thought to be on the verge of breakout in the supporting role of Stan's best friend, Chris, literally hit a wall during the shooting, as Zarchen suffered a life-threatening head injury while driving in Hollywood, allegedly under the influence of alcohol. He survived a brief period of being comatose, and actually returned to the film, although director John Avildsen, due to his medical absence and disgusted with the actor's disregard for the opportunity and the production, greatly cut down his role. This movie also marks the film debut of Pauly Shore, who appears in a small role as another friend of Stan.
Actor Adam Silbar was originally cast in the lead role of Stan but, for unknown reasons, the role was later re-cast with Randall Batinkoff just weeks before the first day of production. Author and casting director Paul G. Bens, Jr., then an actor, was one of the two finalists to replace Silbar. The role ultimately went to Batinkoff.
Rotten Tomatoes aggregate score gave the film a 22% rotten rating. Roger Ebert gave the film a positive review saying, "The movies of Molly Ringwald have been responsible for a revolution in the way Hollywood regards teenagers. Before Ringwald (and her mentor, John Hughes) there were only horny teenagers, dead teenagers, teenage vampires and psychotic crackups. Now teenage movies are working their way through some of the aspects of the normal life of American teenagers, and in “For Keeps,” Ringwald plays a popular high school senior who gets pregnant and gets married." and Janet Maslin of New York Times said, "Most of For Keeps is entirely predictable, but that should do little to diminish its interest for audiences of high-school age. Here again, Miss Ringwald is the very model of teen-age verisimilitude, and she's most impressive in making even the most hackneyed situations seem real. In fact, she's so good she's almost a problem. Mr. Batinkoff, while pleasant, is no real match for her, and the glowering parents who make their kids' lives miserable for a time are no real threat. There is the feeling that Miss Ringwald's Darcy can triumph over anything. But perhaps that's just what Mr. Avildsen had in mind." Judge Brian Pope gave a positive review saying, "Pretty but approachable, smart but funny, cool but sweet, Ringwald represented everything most high-school girls wanted to be: the girl next door who always got the guy without compromising her values. Small wonder she is still regarded as an icon of '80s teen cinema. It wasn't until Ringwald began dipping her toes into slightly more adult roles that she lost her footing. Take For Keeps, for instance. This movie dared to suggest that even a popular honors student is capable of making wrong decisions that result in life-changing consequences. More crucially, Ringwald suggested to her fans that the qualities they found so endearing in her aren't always adequate substitutes for natural maturity. Perhaps that was a bitter pill for her fans to swallow, but it's not such a bad message, and, more than 15 years after its release, For Keeps isn't such a bad movie. The screenplay, by Denise DeClue and Tim Kazurinsky, places Darcy and Stan on an impossibly high pedestal (promising college careers, a loving relationship, reasonably good relationships with the parents, and a supportive network of friends), then sits back and watches what happens after the baby arrives and knocks them off their perch. Suddenly, college takes a backseat to raising a child, Darcy's high-school counselor urges her to finish out senior year at night school, Darcy and Stan are either shunned or smothered by their parents, and the friends move on with their lives while Darcy and Stan juggle odd jobs to pay the bills. Gradually, Darcy and Stan begin to resent each other and their child. These obstacles are plausible, and they are handled with the seriousness they deserve. However, director John G. Avildsen also shows a gentle sense of humor, drawing a few solid laughs out of such things as Darcy attending her senior prom nine months pregnant. Ringwald and Batinkoff are appealing, and they play the material well. So well, in fact, that we're willing to forgive the movie for occasionally resembling a public service announcement. That is, until the film jumps ship and serves up a tidy ending. Just as For Keeps starts to really dig into the unforgiving realities of young parenthood, it wraps things up in a manner so dishonest that it undermines the painful but necessary lessons the film seemed to be building toward. while David Nusair gave a more negative review saying, "For Keeps takes a potentially intriguing subject (two teenagers attempting to start their lives together) and piles on cliche after cliche, until it's about as compelling as an afterschool special 
In January 1988, the film debuted at #4 at the box office (behind Good Morning, Vietnam, Three Men and a Baby, and Moonstruck). Grossing $17,514,553 domestically, the film is a box office success given it's estimated budget of $1 million.