More and more teenagers are becoming sexually active in high school. But how many of them are charging for it?
Shirley (Katherine Waterston) is an honors student who babysits on weekends for a little extra cash and the opportunity to see her crush – the kids’ dad, Michael (John Leguizamo). Then, one night, a brief kiss becomes a passionate make out session and neither Michael nor Shirley can stop thinking about what could have been. Once again face-to-face in close quarters, they cannot control their urges and a furtive romance is set in to motion. And then Michael gives Shirley an unusually large tip on top of her babysitting fee.
Naturally, both share the encounter with their best friends; but where Shirley’s friend is surprised, Michael’s friend is intrigued – and wants a babysitter of his own. Soon all the married neighborhood men are making appointments with “one of Shirley’s girls.” Business is good, the wives are clueless, and the high school madam gets a cut from each date (she’s saving for college). But in a dangerous game, everyone wants to be on top and someone is bound to get hurt.
The story’s concept is the result of a crude joke. First time director David Ross wanted to pen a script in which the girls never thought they would be prostitutes and the johns never imagined paying for sex. When he ordered a drink off a menu, informing the waitress he’d “have the Babysitter,” and his friend made an insinuation, Ross knew the idea would work in a movie.
The material is very risqué but Ross does not resort to dirty old man jokes or debate the moral or criminal aspects of the characters’ actions. Instead, he relies on the cutthroat tactics of high school girls and the natural consequences of industry and adultery. This course leaves audiences to experience their own level of uncomfortableness rather than one dictated by the filmmaker.
Waterston’s character’s evolution from an eccentric wallflower to a high-powered businesswoman is flawless and somewhat unnerving. Additionally, each of her “employees” exhibits a different personality and approach to the job, while demonstrating a wavering level of maturity they may not yet possess.
The husbands, conversely, act like adolescent boys revelling in the attention of fresh, young girls. Michael is the only source of conscience or soft emotion amongst the guilty, however scarce his expressions may be. Always interesting, Leguizamo’s portrayal of a torn husband and a jealous boyfriend is convincingly confused.
The Babysitters is a dark situational comedy that leaves audiences laughing uneasily and grappling with moral discomfort resultant of their enjoyment.