afterschool cautionary tale courtesy of Patty Duke and Sean Astin
This movie, which I believe was originally an afterschool special, concerns a family dealing with the reality of child abuse. Patty Duke is a single mother dealing with the difficulties of raising two sons alone in a new community. She hires teen Nancy McKeon to babysit her youngest son (Sean Astin in his first film appearance). Through the course of the movie, as McKeon gets to know her young charge, she realizes that he is, in fact, being physically abused by his mother. Duke, as usual, turns in a great performance as the conflicted mother, struggling to control the rage that prompts the abuse and feeling guilty over the results. While it may have seemed cutting edge 20 years ago, the film comes across now as a bombastic public service announcement, watering down the complexities of the nature of abuse presumably to make the situation understandable to kids and teens. It might be shown somewhere like the LIFETIME network, which seems to have a soft spot for Patty Duke TV movies.
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