Review: Babysitting Without a Net

by ToddCheese

"Sis-Boom-Bra!" chants bad-girl Louise, waving unfortunate babysitter Laura-Ann's undergarments like a pair of pom-poms. "Nickel for a peep show, rah-rah-rah!"

At $25.00, Bennett Stein and Joseph P. Flanagan's Babysitting without a Net is definitely pricier, but it's still well worth the cost of admission. Beating Ann Berrybush: The New Voice of Reason out the gate, Babysitting sets a high bar for that film to follow, considering the two share very similar content. (Both feature an old-fashioned, somewhat prudish young woman at the mercy of a pair of mischievous high school girls.)

There's a lot to like: Skilled camera work, artful but not distracting; good production values, including a great-looking mansion which provides the sets; and a trio of actresses who are clearly professionals. Monica Himmelheber, as babysitter Laura-Ann, understands the crucial art of acting convincingly embarrassed, and is not afraid to go where this type of story requires, but skillfully avoids overplaying it. Amy and Louise (Yara McClay and Elise Ivy) share a nice on-camera chemistry as the partners in crime who literally embarrass the pants off their babysitter. As an independent film, Babysitting has a down-to-earth, realistic feeling, with some fun dialogue that's hip but not annoyingly so. "That apron is harshing my mellow," Louise informs Laura-Ann before pulling it off the unfortunate academic.

The film clocks in at just over 38 minutes and definitely feels a bit short, but it's tight, with no extraneous characters or plot-padding to slog through before we get to the good stuff (which is how it would be if this were manhandled by a major studio). There's a subtle but effective sense of progression as the girls repeatedly separate poor Laura-Ann from her undergarments, which gradually shrink from 19th-century pettipants and bustier ("Is it bulletproof?" asks a horrified Amy) to skimpy red lace bra and panties.

Of course Laura-Ann is embarrassed but continues to let the girls push her into it, suggesting she must enjoy it on some level she can't explain. Amy is the hardcore bad girl, sporting black slutty outfits and a nose-ring (which seems to switch sides on occasion), with ultra-short-skirted Louise tagging along for the ride and enjoying it too. If you've ever read an Ann Berrybush or "Ann the Helpless Babysitter" story, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how accurately the movie captures their spirit. Stein and Flanagan are clearly fans, and their film is a labor of love.

Without revealing everything, I can tell you that the film essentially consists of four short viginettes showing Laura-Ann's humiliation at the hands of Amy and Louise. A game of "tell the truth" quickly turns to what Laura-Ann is wearing under her clothes, and soon she's forced to do some naked cleaning. The girls also force her to make cookies wearing an apron (JUST an apron), slip her a drugged drink, and finally trick her out of her clothes right before the first day of school starts. All of this is handled tastefully, even in the final (heads up, incoming pun) climactic scene. Always erotic, but never pornographic.

If I had to register a complaint it'd be the lack of supplementary material on the DVD. All that's included are the feature and the website trailer, not even a fancy menu. I would have loved to hear a commentary track from the producers or stars, maybe see some deleted or alternate scenes. But it doesn't really matter because, if you're into ENF / CFNF without the smut, like me, this is the kind of movie you've been waiting years for someone to make. The best way to show that there's a market for this particular subject matter is to support Narrow-Minded Productions and buy a copy. (Tell Joe and company ToddCheese sent you!)