A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that while some of the young teen characters make poor choices in this movie, they ultimately learn their lessons and serve as strong role models.Two main characters lie to their friends, family, and sometimes put others at risk, but these tests of independence and friendship ultimately reinforce the message that kids need to rely on others and make positive choices. There is some flirting and a bit of kissing between teens, and the romantic relationship between a 13-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy is a central plot point. While there's little swearing and no alcohol or drug use, at times the movie is like an ad for popular food products.
What's the story?
Based on the book by Ann M. Martin, THE BABY SITTERS CLUB shows kids of different ethnicities and interests hanging out, riding bikes, getting crushes, working on schoolwork, and hatching crazy/brilliant schemes. The scheme in this case is a summer day camp where the girls can earn enough money to get an office for their baby sitting group. Group ringleader and tomboy Kristy (Shuyler Fisk) and her buddies -- the math-minded Stacy (Bre Blair), the studious Mary Anne (She's All That's Rachael Leigh Cook), hippie Dawn (10 Things I Hate About You and The Secret World of Alex Mack's Larissa Oleynik), artistic Claudia (Tricia Joe), novelist Mallory (Stacy Linn Ramsower), and dancer Jessi (Zelda Harris) -- have had the market cornered on babysitting in suburban Stoneybrook for years -- but they're also best friends. In a bid to get to spend the summer together every day and still keep their babysitting clients happy, the girls open a day camp. But when Kristy's flaky biological dad reappears after a near five-year absence, Kristy's loyalties are torn: Does she keep the secret her dad asks her to keep or does she risk betraying him? And can she get all the time she wants with her dad while still spending enough time with her family and at the day camp she created?
Is it any good?
If you want a picture of real suburban tween/teen life, don't look to the Disney Channel or early Lindsay Lohan movies. Instead, check out The Baby Sitters Club. Nearly all the young actresses are enchanting. The only shame is that Blair's performance as Stacy falls flat. It's no surprise that Oleynik and Cook became bigger-name stars after this movie. And Fisk's portrayal of the confused but well-meaning Kristy has viewers alternately rooting for her and worrying about her. It's especially worrying when she does things like head to a carnival alone at night and leave her baby brother to walk home alone.
The great thing about The Baby Sitters Club is that Kristy learns her lesson -- and offers instructive life lessons to tweens eager to test their independence. It reminds them that going it alone, especially when an adult is asking them to compromise their morals, is never the right choice. And in a world of oversexualized teens, it's refreshing that the sweet girls, dressed age-appropriately and non-suggestively, are the ones with the boyfriends. It also shows boys as they really are -- sure they're attracted to girls, but they also like the girls for all the different parts of their personalities.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the danger of keeping secrets. What should you do if an adult ever asks you to keep a secret from your parents? Who should you talk to if your parent is the person asking you to keep the secret? When is keeping a secret OK?
Did you notice the brand-name products in the movie? Do you think these products were there to make the movie feel more realistic, or were they paid for by the companies? Do these sorts of product placements make you more likely to buy the items?
- In theaters: August 14, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: September 16, 2003
- Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Larisa Oleynik, Rachael Leigh Cook, Schuyler Fisk, Tricia Joe
- Director: Melanie Mayron
- Studio: Sony Pictures
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: brief mild language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.