Starring: Christina Applegate, Joanna Cassidy, John Getz
Director: Stephen Herek
Running Time: 102 mins
Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead is an American film about five siblings who are left for the summer with an evil babysitter. However, after the old woman dies, they decide to hide the fact from their mother and live out the summer on their own.
As enjoyably dark and chaotic as its excellent title suggests, Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead is a thoroughly entertaining watch, complete with great performances and good laughs. Its story may be a little on the preposterous side, but it has all the hallmarks of a classic cult comedy, and I’m surprised it’s not more well-known.
The premise is simple. A bunch of kids see their mother go off for the summer and leave them with an evil babysitter. Fortunately, the babysitter dies, and the kids decide to spend the summer on their own without telling their mother.
However, with no money and nobody to look after them, they have to find a way to live for the two months of summer, forcing the eldest sibling, Christina Applegate, to find a job at start to care for the family.
And that’s where so much of the film’s fun comes from. Rather than an anarchic, slapstick comedy like Weekend At Bernie’s, Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead plays on a much cleverer screenplay that’s full of both enjoyably chaotic laughs and some entertaining dark comedy too.
Following a 17 year-old who quickly rises up the ranks at a company while trying to make enough money to feed her siblings, the movie touches on some of the farces of the business world, as well as a few darker elements of the world of work that an innocent 17 year-old girl finds herself up against.
Above all, the whirlwind of it all sees Christina Applegate’s impressively driven young character taken to the top of her field in just a few weeks, effectively becoming the career woman who has to take care of the house that her mother was.
It’s a nice little note that brings a pleasing circularity to the story, as well as a tongue-in-cheek dig at kids’ utopian idea of a world without grown-ups, providing some of the film’s very best laughs.
Alongside that side of the story, the film entertains with some enjoyable farce and chaos that make for some great laughs. It’s not quite as funny as some of the movie’s darker and sharper gags, but it brings some nice levity to the film that makes it an enjoyable romp all the same.
And that’s why I’m surprised Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead isn’t a more popular film nowadays. It has all the ingredients of a classic ’90s comedy, with a great lead performance from a young Christina Applegate, and a good blend of clever, dark humour and light-hearted farce.
Admittedly, it’s not constantly laugh-out-loud hilarious, and is at times a little too chaotic for its own good, but the film is still a thoroughly entertaining watch throughout. So, that’s why I’m giving Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead a 7.3 overall.