The Babysitters: Reductive, Painful Fun


Used to be that babysitters only solved mysteries or got caught in the middle of Mafia deals. Now they’re charging $200 to eat a cock-meat sandwich. How did we get here? So wonders a comatose Shirley (Katherine Waterston), pert brown nipples trying to break on through to the other side of a wafer-thin white top, and as The Babysitters leaves the Ecstasy-laden party that the teenage madam organizes for her clients and backtracks to the fateful day when Michael (John Leguizamo) sowed her groove thang, the obsessive- compulsive high-schooler asserts: “Sometimes I do stupid things. I don’t know why.” Like her, David Ross’s film parses the rise and fall of a babysitters’-club-cum- prostitution-ring with a near-unwillingness to bust a brain cell, though nuts get a considerable workout. As Shirley introduces her posse of Junos and Heathers to the townies, the occasional social commentary rises to the surface—Ross repeatedly acknowledges the way middle-aged pervs appeal to the insecurities of young girls—but these glints of insight are as colorlessly sketched as the $20 bills that Shirls stuffs under her mattress. Ultimately, the film’s view of female self-loathing and girl-on-girl exploitation is as woefully reductive and painful as the it’s-all-fun-and-games- until-your-dad-gets-in-on-the-action capper and the propensity for Desperate Housewives–style summarizing.