DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD (1991)

Directed By: Stephen Herek
Written By: Neil Landau & Tara Ison
Cinematography By: Tim Sushrstedt
Editor: Larry Bock

Cast: Christina Applegate, Keith Coogan, Joanna Cassidy, Jayne Brook, John Getz, Josh Charles, Kimmy Robertson, Danielle Harris, David Duchovny, Concetta Tomei, Christopher Pettiet, Sarah Buxton, Michael Kopelow 

Single mother goes away for the summer. The kids are first delighted but then find that Mom has hired the sitter from hell to stay with them. When the sitter dies of a sudden coronary they deposit the body at a mortuary only to discover all their summer expense money was in her purse. The kids must find a way to survive the summer without mom or her money. This means actual work! 


The title gets to the point and pretty much summarizes the plot of the movie right away. Usually, movies Like this have a deadly fate. Look at STOP OR MY MOTHER WILL SHOOT! Which is more infamous than anything.

This is actually pretty good and memorable. Even watching it today though some of it is dated and some of the humor random. It still holds up as even though it has some harsh material mostly in the form of language and certain situations. This is more a family romp. The material makes it seem like it’s own Characters who are likable who seem tough and troubled but have good hearts. As it has an edge but plays it clean.

I will admit I have a soft spot for this film. I even saw it in theaters upon the initial release. It still is instantly rewatchable.

This was Christina Applegate’s big Hollywood starring role. She has guest-starred in other shows and had an indie film that was buried on video before this, by this was a big time and even though a modest hit. That seems to love on in airings. She never really got a chance at a big screen follow up the Leading role.

Here she plays against her usual sexy or sex pot type of roles she was getting at the time. This was more of a teenager forced to grow up to get out of a situation but still being a kid at heart. So a kind of comedic coming of age role that wasn’t too deep. This role allowed her to show range and talent. Which might be why she is discharged a consummate comedic actress now. As she grew up play around comedic productions and actors. Even though she was not the first choice for the role. As it was written for Winona Ryder and once she turned it down Justine Bateman was to take on the role but dropped out.

As we basically watch her as a teen prepare for the adult world. While being immersed in it and while making mistakes learning to form them and getting by and actually improving and helping the company and her co-workers. Which has an effect on all those around. Her and proving that karma does exist.

The film even manages to fit in a cute teenage romantic subplot that of course runs parallel to the main plot and ends up having mishaps, misunderstandings and accidents.

The film isn’t as cynical and dark as the title might suggest or that the premise might seem.

Part of what works is that even the supporting characters are fun and come off as believable and funny and get their own space and time to shine.

This was one of the last really noteworthy roles for actor Keith Coogan. Here he plays the second oldest Kenny a stoner metalhead who manages the household while his sister is away and in staying home also learns a skill that helps him to mature. After all his mistakes at home that cause only more trouble and mishaps. He nearly steals the movie though doesn’t have as much screen time. Though this is definitely a highlight of His work and one of his bigger roles. Definitely one most will remember him for other then ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING.

Production nearly stopped towards the end of shooting due to Christopher Pettiet’s drug addiction, which was starting to get out of control. The producers cut a few of his scenes to keep the film on schedule. Which would explain why he is barely in the movie.

This could have easily been a one-joke movie but it actually has some substance to go along with the comedy it presents. It actually feels well rounded which is rare for a teen comedy. Especially at the time. –If the pace had been a bit quicker this could have been quite a slapstick comedy.

John Landis was originally approached to direct as he was the producer’s first choice. the movie but he turned it down. As did John Hughes who only directed his own scripts and was eager to step away from teen films. Also Richard Donner, Joe Dante rand Joel Schumacher turned it down. This was Director Stephen Herek’s third big-screen film production. He shines here. Which would be his style with most of his films. Which really were more family-centered films. With those other directors, the film would be more an approach of their styles which might be bigger than the actors of the film but might have allowed To be taken more seriously as a comedy. Rather than written off as a dark teen film. Even as it packs plenty of nostalgia no matter what age

GRADE: B-

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