"For Keeps" is for teens in trouble, but it's ill-conceived. Molly Ringwald stars in this simple-minded sex education romance, which finds the terminally teen-age actress attending the prom in a maternity dress. She's got swollen ankles, backaches and bladder problems, too. It's like a cross between a John Hughes movie and health class.
The movie opens with a close-up look at the reproductive process, beginning with conception on a rain-soaked sleeping bag. Director John G. Avildsen gives us a peculiar microscopic perspective, and suddenly we are at the business end of an orgasm, like the tiny little pod passengers in "Fantastic Voyage." A few scenes later Darcy (Ringwald) misses her period, even though she is taking birth control pills.
Darcy and her boyfriend Stan (Randall Batinkoff) are presented as the perfect young couple -- fresh-faced and fast-track. They are savvy, college-bound seniors -- she to the University of Wisconsin to study journalism; he to CalTech to study architecture. Perky. Perky. Perky. Then her pregnancy test confirms their worst fears.
They discuss the matter with their uniformly obnoxious parents, suggesting that they might wish to have the child. "Forget it," his father sneers. "You had a gerbil last year. You forgot to feed it and it died." Nevertheless, Darcy and Stan marry and keep the baby. Inexplicably, these sharpies turn into mush brains. They just give up on college and get jobs in roof repair and fast food.
It's all as cliche'd as "A Summer Place," a better movie even if it was soap opera. "For Keeps" is a soapbox opera, and the slats are about to fall through. Writers Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue are as wishy-washy about their issues as they are their heroes. And they serve up the usual "you can have it all" scenario. After the teen-agers suffer with didies and postpartum depression, it's off to college to prepare for future careers.
Ringwald and the debuting Batinkoff manage several teen-pleasing scenes, although they're poorly served by the excruciating dialogue. "When you're pregnant you sometimes get hemorrhoids," says Darcy.
"Bummer," says Stan.
For Keeps, at area theaters, is rated PG-13 for adult themes.