Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991) is another bad movie I saw in theaters when I was a kid. I thought it was hilarious and after catching it on HBO recently I still think it’s somewhat funny. Even if it’s not that funny anymore, I at least enjoy it for the sake of nostalgia. Five white American kids are left with a cranky elderly babysitter who dies on them. To help the story progress, the kids would rather drop the dead body off at a funeral home than have their mom come home. The only problem is they can’t find the money left for them so oldest sister Sue Ellen (Christina Applegate) takes a job as an assistant to a industrial and commercial uniform designer to make ends meet. Only problem is she’s 17 and lies on her application. Somehow, through montages and coming of age sequences, Sue Ellen grows up quick and saves the day, having a big runway show at her house and other nonsense.
Director Stephen Herek, who also helmed Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, make this cheesy film work. It’s entertaining even though it’s a base concept. I’m fairly certain that the writers and Herek didn’t realize their film is a diatribe against outsourcing. The company Sue Ellen works for and has to save towards the end of the film is losing customers because prices are rising and clients are moving to the cheaper companies, which at this time in American history were using cheap overseas labor. The four other children are interesting, for their characters, although thin at times, demonstrate various types of American children: the oldest brother Kenny is a pothead who becomes obsessed with Julia Childs and become an excellent cook, the youngest brother Walter is a couch potato, middle brother Zach is involved in early teen romance (basically he’s after Middle School vagina), and the younger sister Melissa is a tomboy (and also the least developed of the kids). There’s a funny scene when Kenny and his hesher friends get the dog high and a bunch of other silly marijuana humor. However, the film tries to be a story of positive growth for children and teens and by the end of the film Kenny is sober and wants to attend culinary school. At times it seems as if somebody mixed Disney values with Nickelodeon’s.
The budget for the film was obviously low and Box Office Mojo states it made over $25 million at the box office. Aside from Joanna Cassidy and Applegate, only David Duchovny has any notoriety. I’m sure if HBO didn’t have to probably pay nothing to broadcast it, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead would fade into obscurity. I didn’t write a Netflix review for the film but here’s the trailer. I wouldn’t recommend spending any money on this movie, but if it comes on HBO it’s worth watching while cleaning the house or if sick.
Here’s the trailer
I forgot to discuss the best line in the film: “Park it yourself Metallica breath!”