BEST FILM (2001)

I Hate Babysitting!

Easily the most accomplished (and the funniest) local feature to come down the pike since Driver 23, this fiendishly creative, girl-centered coming-of-age farce by writer-producer-director Tara Spartz begins with a borderline obscene vignette linking babysitting to prostitution and just builds from there. Drawn from Spartz's own experiences looking after little brats for insultingly low pay, I Hate Babysitting! (which premiered in March as part of the Walker's "Women With Vision" series) is a classic comedy of adolescent pain and humiliation, awash in bodily fluids and set, appropriately, during the ass-end of summer vacation in lovely suburban Coon Rapids. Struggling to save for back-to-school clothes on a part-time baby sitter's budget, and desperate to attend her best friend Crystal's first kegger despite Mom's fierce objections, our endlessly put-upon heroine Brigit (Amanda Benolkin) suffers her own private hell with truly Minnesotan stoicism...up to a point. Spartz, an Arts High School and MCTC grad whose earlier "Balls Out!" gave a good hint of her talent, achieves nearly everything she attempts here. Her superb direction of actors young and old is clearly rooted in her firsthand knowledge of the milieu. Her astute camera placement (Kevin Smith, eat your heart out!) flaunts her innate feel for the front yard, the front seat, the public swimming pool, and the basement rec room. Her characters, even the minor ones, are believably eccentric (the near-catatonic "Grammy" is a particular riot). And the hilariously vulgar dialogue remains simultaneously true to age, gender, and region. I Hate Babysitting! is scheduled to screen twice more at the Heights Theater on June 7; find a baby sitter, if you must, and go.


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