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‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ (PG)

By Eve Zibart
Washington Post Staff Writer
August 18, 1995

"The Baby-Sitters Club," the first film adaptation of Ann M. Martin's phenomenally popular series (100-plus titles and 125 million copies sold in 10 years) featuring seven fledgling entrepreneurs, is aimed straight at the preteen girls' audience right where it lives—on the razor's edge of puberty.

It's the summer most of the girls turn 13, they've decided to expand into running a summer camp, and in and around the predictable crises (boys, snobby rivals and summer school) comes a decidedly modern one: The irresponsible father of tomboy BSC founder Kristy (Schuyler Fisk) secretly returns, enticing her to neglect her friends and responsibilities, lie to her mother (Brooke Adams) and dredge up old resentments against her loving stepfather. Ultimately, the immature dad exposes her to very adult heartbreak, which is (smartly) not neatly resolved.

The film, like the books, is carefully "contemporary": The kids are a rainbow coalition; the apparently stuffy next-door neighbor (Ellen Burstyn) turns out to be a world-traveling photojournalist and independent-woman role model; and the club's major nemesis is a spoiled, snobby and mean sort of "rich girl" (although nobody in this bucolic Connecticut suburb is particularly strapped). And when one of the girls is in danger of flunking biology, her friends put together a hip-hop rap on the human body that comes back to her in the nick of time.

But though the script is predictable, it's not too clumsy. Former "thirtysomething" heartthrob Peter Horton is deftly seductive as the feckless dad, and the pull he has on Kristy, as well as on her mother, is clear. And although the younger actors are stuck with some hokey moments, they pull it off pretty well, particularly Bre Blair as Stacey, who's reluctant to tell her 17-year-old admirer about her age or her diabetes; and Rachel Lee Cook as Mary Anne, who has to keep Kristy's secret. Schuyler Fisk, debuting with polish, is Sissy Spacek's daughter, and several others have previous film or TV experience.

THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB (PG) — No objectionable anything.

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