Don’t You Forget About: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead



WHAT it’s about: A group of siblings who have the summer of their lives after the retched old babysitter their Australia-bound mom left in charge suddenly bites the dust. Instead of calling the hospital or their mother, they stuff the woman in a trunk and drop her on the doorstep of a local funeral home, leaving them to their own, adult-free devices.

WHO’S in it: Christina Applegate, Danielle Harris, Josh Charles and a then-unknown David Duchovny.   

WHEN it came out: 1991  

HOW come you haven’t heard of (or just seen) it:  It got some really bratty reviews, leaving it with a Rotten Tomatoes ratting of 33 % and a just over $25,000 box-office gross. And the name doesn’t do it any favours. At least with certain mainstream audiences. (I was all over it when I saw it in my print copy of TV Guide way back when.) 

WHY you need to watch it–immediately!: 

  • Because contrary to what Jonah Hill’s new movie, The Sitter (which looks like an awful, PG Adventures in Babysitting rip-off), suggests, there was a time when movies centered around babysitters were fucking rad. (See also: Mrs. Doubtfire, The Babysitter’s Club, Labyrinth, Uncle Buck, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Halloween …).
  • Tagline: No rules. No curfews. No nagging. No pulse.
  • The opening credits are definitely animated, featuring a comic grandma and squared bubble letter-style title card.
  • Christina Applegate, the oldest sibling, has the best bangs I’ve ever seen in a ’90s movie. And the worst wardrobe I’ve ever seen period.
  • The note they leave on the old lady’s makeshift coffin: “Nice old lady inside, died of natural causes.”
  • It’s not nearly as morbid as it sounds. In fact, it’s pretty much the polar opposite. Which makes the plot even more ridiculous … ly awesome.
  • Like another early ’90s classic, Camp Nowhere, this movie brings to life every teenager’s daydreams. Well, minus the whole dead old lady thing.
  • The soundtrack is amazing, filled with everything from Modern English to Spinal Tap (yes, that Spinal Tap).
  • Applegate’s character, Sue Ellen, tries to get a job at the mall (to support her brothers and sisters) and fails. So she does up a faux resume and lands a job as an assistant at a major fashion company! Oh, and she’s seventeen.
  • The movie’s climax involves a backyard poolside teen fashion show. And it’s a hit!
  • Did you see the title?

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