Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

So young high-school student Shirley Lyner (Katherine Waterston) has a big old school girl crush on the guy she babysits for, Michael Beltran (John Leguizamo), in this movie ‘The Babysitters’ from writer / director David Ross. Mr. Ross also sets his movie right down the street in Southfield Michigan so I guess he must be from around here since I can’t think of any other good reason for a filmmaker to set their movie in Southfield. Anyway, Michael is going through a bit of a mid-life crisis as his wife Gail (Cynthia Nixon) isn’t all that much fun anymore, his boss is an asshole and his kids are brats. One fateful night, while driving his babysitter home, the pair stop for some eats, have some interesting and intense conversation… Now I’m going to be forty later this year, hold your applause, but I can’t image a conversation I could possibly have with a sixteen year old girl that could be all that interesting. Regardless, next thing you know Michael is breaking the law engaging in some underage loving in the back of his Yukon. But here’s where he screws up. He gives her some money. Katherine was just happy to give up the poo but the exchange of funds made this little sexual tryst into something different altogether. Would you believe that there is viable market for middle-aged men desiring to have sex with not quite legal young girls? Well Shirley has figured this out and this is what this movie ‘The Babysitters’ is all about, with young Shirley learning that truly... Pimpin’ ain’t easy.

So Michael couldn’t keep his mouth shut and tells his buddy Jerry (Andy Comeau) who obviously asks if he can be down. Shirley brings her psycho friend Melissa (Lauren Birkell) in on the action and the next thing you know Shirley finds herself with more babysitting gigs than she knows what to do with. Michael finds his feelings are hurt because it looks like he’s fallen in love with this sixteen year old girl who also is servicing other clients in addition to him. Shirley is disturbed because it looks as if some of her more enterprising high school whores she has employed are shunting business away from her, robbing her of her rather hefty 20% pimpin’ fee and she can’t

very well have that. Eventually Michael’s heartbreak and Shirley’s trouble with her whores comes to a rather confrontational crossroads which gives the young pimpette cause for reflection on the what and the why of exactly what she was doing.

So the credits roll and the television screen goes dark and I’m sitting there wondering what exactly was the point of Mr. Ross’s film ‘The Babysitters’. I certainly don’t think the goal was to titillate despite the salacious subject matter, because a lot of the sex was implied and limited to fully clothed folks hopping up and down shot from the waist up, with the exception of a somewhat gratuitous albeit brief topless scene from Katherine Waterston. Perhaps the movie was to alert parents that they better keep an eye on their teenage daughters who now know they have options if they elect not to buy that new I-Phone they’ve had their sights set on. Maybe David Ross is sending a message to the wives out there that its time to stop being such Dream Crushing Bitches because some fresh sixteen year old poo is just three hundred dollars away. I don’t know. That’s probably my main problem with ‘The Babysitters’ in that I just don’t know what, if anything, I was supposed to get out of watching it. I guess this just could be the simple story of a sixteen year old pimpette and the delusional man who is idiot enough to fall for a sixteen year old pimpette, especially since there’s no particular ramifications suffered or resolution to any of these characters deviant behavior. Just like in real life for the most part. And yes, I used the word deviant. I don’t want go all moral on you but this movie is a bit uncomfortable to watch at times. Hell, most of the time. I’m guessing Katherine Waterston is probably in her mid twenties or thereabouts but she does do a good job of playing an awkward teenage girl, probably helped by the fact she’s like seven feet tall and doesn’t seem to be all that at ease being bigger than everybody else in the movie. She also does a fine job of, over the course of time, turning that awkward teenaged girl into quite the hard-assed shrewd business woman. She started the movie making PBJ sandwiches and ended the movie doubling the price for a BJ. Only in America baby. I should take to task some criticism I read of Waterston, from a female critic no less, who felt that Waterston wasn’t good looking enough for the role and that Ross probably should’ve used some hot little minx instead, with her naming a few examples. Obviously this woman didn’t get what little point the movie might’ve been trying to make. Rachel Leigh Cook or Evan Rachel Wood aren’t going to be able to cover the ground that Waterston could cover over the course of the film, and thus the impact from beginning to end is lost. Come on girlfriend, work with me here.

Truth be told I can’t even tell you if I liked the movie or not. It was well acted, well shot and David Ross seems to be a skilled film director but the question remains, at least for me, what was the point of the movie? There are no damsels in distress to save, there’s no bomb on a schoolbus to diffuse, there’s no figuring out what the hell ‘Rosebud’ is supposed to mean. Being a high school prostitute and being a man who pays for sex with underaged girls isn’t presented as something that’s not all that bad. I don’t know what I was supposed to get out of this stylish but ultimately vacuous exercise. If anything.

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