Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (Stephen Herek, 1991)

Five kids are left home when their mother leaves town on a three-month vacation to Australia, only to have their geriatric babysitter die of a heart attack, leading to the eldest teen, Sue Ellen (Christina Applegate), to scam her way into taking a job at a hip Los Angeles fashion company to feed and support her needy siblings.

Here on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque we are not always only highbrows and snobbish film fans, we also like our entertainment entertaining and our cult films and our campy films. Coming out of a long hiatus as the one that was here we had to make it clear that it is a slow but dedicated return to the world of movies for us here.

This review of a film of the early 1990’s is not only a return to form but also a reminder of how film criticism can be tainted by our path in life and how some film can be a return in time as it is for nostalgia and also time or episodic memory of our own life. Lately, Werner Herzog was speaking about the story we each create in our own heads when we are watching a movie. It is a parallel story to the one that is told on the screen by its author. So for me, American films circa 1982 to 1993 are linked to the story of my childhood and each film of that time is like watching a bit of my memory. It is a struggle for me to not try to relate too much to everything I gaze of these films.

The funny thing is it was my first time watching Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead but it was my wife that watched it many times back when she was a preteen dreaming of fashion.
Much like Summer School (1987), Don’t Tell Mom is a summer vacation flick for teens released on June 7 of 1991 and it is a Home Alone (1990) for this age trunk. While not being as succesful as the Macauley Culkin vehicule or as funny as Summer School, it is quite entertaining and Christina Applegate gives an honest performance. The director also put classic movie references here and there for the most knowledgeables of us to notice.

This is the kind of movie that puts you in a special mood and far from being the best of 1991 (it was a pretty decent year in fact with JFK, Raise the Red Lantern, A Brighter Summer Day) it is a film that can easily be in my rainy summer afternoon rotation along Summer School, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

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