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For Keeps

They were two typical American teenagers: involved with school and homework, friends and family, and completely confident that nothing bad could ever happen to them. Directed by John G. Avildsen (“Karate Kid” I, II), “For Keeps” is the story of Darcy and Stan, high school sweethearts who had their whole futures in front of them… until they got pregnant.

Darcy and Stan come from completely different worlds. Stan’s (Randall Batinkoff) household is a traditional Catholic family with a family owned business. Stan is expected to follow in his father’s (Kenneth Mars) footsteps, but Stan has dreams of going to college and becoming an architect. Darcy (Molly Ringwald) lives with her single working mom and has dreams of her own. She longs to be a part of the world of journalism and she gets her start as editor of the school paper. The two high school seniors are in love and thrilled to be so close to the end of their school careers when the unexpected happens. After one careless, passionate night, Darcy becomes pregnant.

Initially, the two teens don’t fully understand just how drastically their lives will change. When they finally agree to tell their families the news, however, they are confronted with the reality of what having a baby while in high school will mean. Although their families blame each other for the kids’ dilemma, they are agreed on the best solution: an abortion. Darcy and Stan are adamant that they don’t want to abort their baby. They are determined to make things work without dropping out of high school or sacrificing their dreams. After an ugly confrontation with their parents, Darcy and Stan quickly marry and find a place of their own. With their baby on the way, they become an instant family.

Despite their high hopes and youthful confidence, life for Darcy and Stan quickly becomes tougher than they expected. They have money problems, scheduling issues, and many other problems that they never anticipated. As he watches his dream slipping further and further away, Stan begins to drink more often. Darcy is worried that she won’t get to finish high school as she gets closer to her delivery date. The two even try to attend their senior prom, which ends with a major surprise. After their baby is born, there are even more complications awaiting Stan and Darcy which eventually puts their new marriage at stake.

If you thought this film would be a silly 80’s flick, you’re in for a surprise. “For Keeps” tackles some difficult issues, topics that are often avoided in film, especially in 1988. Not only are teen pregnancy and marriage major topics, but class issues and stereotypes are confronted. This is one of my favorite flashback films. It’s a romantic comedy with a lot more substance than fluff.

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