Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead
Directed by Steve Herek. Starring Christina Applegate, Keith Coogan, John Getz, Danielle Harris, Josh Charles. (1991, PG-13, 102 min.)
REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., June 7, 1991
Home Alone meets Bill and Ted`s Excellent Adventure and then visits Working Girl – none of it works. The premise of the film, which is so minimal it can be gleaned from the poster, is that Mom is going to Australia for two months, she hires a babysitter, the babysitter dies and then the kids, led by Applegate and her worthless brother Coogan, are left to fend for themselves. Worse, they don't have any money. Disdaining the jobs available to most kids her age, Applegate manages to talk her way into a high-paying job in the fashion industry and all would be well, except her rotten sibs keep stealing money from her purse and the oldest, who is supposed to watch the kids while Applegate is off working, is always high on pot with his scruffy friends. These children are obnoxious. Given the expectations of modern American film audiences, which we know the modern American film industry is too chickenshit to disappoint, it's obvious the kids are going to have to straighten up and develop some character and that's the most far-fetched idea in the film. The souls of these little monsters are much too black to be redeemed within the confines of an hour and a half film. Perhaps most the most interesting aspect of DTMTBSD is its reinforcement of Tom Engelhardt's article in the June issue of Harper's which discusses the sorry state of children's literature. He bemoans the fact that book after book addresses the child as consumer and the values they inculcate are those of the wise shopper. Don't Tell Mom doesn't even do that. These larcenous little brats fritter their stolen cash on a home entertainment center. Obviously, the films kids are expected to go see this summer, are not much better than the books they're expected to read. If you're going to be around kids this summer, watch your pocketbooks and your backs.