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‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ (PG)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 19, 1995

Based on the highly successful series of kids' novels by Ann M. Martin, Melanie Mayron's "The Baby-Sitters Club" is a colorful, buoyant, loving tribute to the notion of girlfriends forever.

The movie, written by Dalene Young, tells the story of seven girls around the age of 13 in fictional Stoneybrook, Conn. Close friends for years, they share the joys and agonies of growing up, but they're also famous for the smart little baby-sitting service they've set up for the town's residents. Still, their ambitions are not satisfied. With summer approaching, these budding capitalists—led by the vivacious Kristy (a captivating Schuyler Fisk)—have a brainstorm: Why not start a summer camp?

With a minimum of fuss, the friends put their camp together. In the meantime, Mayron and Young begin to develop subplots that reflect the emotional stresses that these girls must endure. Yet, though each of the characters has obstacles to overcome—Stacey (Bre Blair), for example, has diabetes—the problems exist merely as an excuse for the girls to band together, support one another and demonstrate the power of sisterhood.

Nothing at all wrong with that, of course, especially since Mayron keeps the atmosphere light and the pace frolicking. In the movie's didactic optimism, there is an underlying hint—very common in today's movies for young people—that the filmmakers see themselves as shapers of America's youth. And if it weren't for the slight air of loopiness that Mayron contributes, this might look like a recruiting film for a future army of Martha Stewarts.

Instead, "The Baby-Sitters Club" captures something of the special nature of friendship among girls—in particular, soul mates at this vital, confusing, glorious moment in their lives. After the summer is over, each has gone through some challenge, some painful growth experience, and with each other's help, they've all come out the better for it. Granted, this junior, inside-out version of "The Women" takes a romantic, even starry-eyed view of adolescent sisterhood, but its innocence is refreshing.

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