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Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991)

 -  Comedy  -  7 June 1991 (USA)
6.0
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 19,011 users  
Reviews: 74 user | 21 critic

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, to scam her way into taking a job at a hip Los Angeles fashion company to feed and support her needy siblings.

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Title: Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (1991)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Rose Lindsey
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Gus
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Bryan
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Mom
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Bruce
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Cathy
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Carolyn
Eda Reiss Merin ...
Mrs. Sturak
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Chris Claridge ...
Lizard
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Mole
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Storyline

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! Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

No rules. No curfews. No baths. No nagging. No pulse. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 June 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Real World  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$25,196,249 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original title was "The Real World". This was changed to avoid confusion with the new MTV reality series of the same name, The Real World (1992). See more »

Goofs

Characters refer to Sue Ellen as being 17 years old. However, technically she is 16 as her birthday (as printed on her driver's license) is 19 December 1973. As the events take place during a 1990 Los Angeles school summer, it would not be December yet, making Sue Ellen 16. See more »

Quotes

Mom: Melissa, want to get down from there?
Melissa Crandell: No.
Mom: Get down from there.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The two groundskeepers for the cemetery stand over the Babysitters grave and comment how nice it was for her to leave them the money. The tombstone reads "Nice Old Lady inside who died of natural causes". See more »

Connections

Featured in 1992 MTV Movie Awards (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

As Time Goes By
Produced by Bruce Nazarian
Written by Herman Hupfeld
Published by Warner Bros., Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Amusing film from a more innocent age.
11 November 2004 | by (Brighton, England) – See all my reviews

What is a great film? Something that is truly timeless, or something which is a classic of its genre? Obviously, no-one's pretending "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead" is a great film (no great film has a title of more than three words. Think about it) but nonetheless, one does get to see how a film handles its composition of several genres rather than one. It's the best strategy towards greatness, and I hope to see this attempted more frequently.

"Don't Tell Mom..." is at an interesting cultural crossroads. It's basically the last of the Eighties high-concept comedies: the same broad category as films like Big and Crocodile Dundee, where the whole film comes from the pitch. However, we get to see shades of Wayne's World-esquire Generation X teen movie, especially in the character of Rob, and unfortunately the short-lived genre of 'kids acting in grown-up situations and delivering ever-so-amusing grownup lines.' John Hughes was the master of this style of film-making, and there's definitely shades of his work in here, most noticeably the setting of a film largely within a family house.

First of all - the pitch. Kids left at home for summer with babysitter. Babysitter dies and kids must fend for themselves with as few people let in on the secret as possible. From this moment on, the film was always going to go about the format of throwing its naive, brattish teenagers in the real world at the deep end and extracting as much amusement as possible from their sinking-or-swimming.

The screenplay starts to thin at this point. Of the five kids in the house, only two are feasibly old enough to work, or indeed to learn any sort of life lesson throughout this experience. The plot then follows Sue Ellen as she stumbles her way into a job and up the corporate ladder (the script is devoid of jokes at this point, but I kept watching because Christina Applegate is a surprisingly good actress.) Everything from this point is a misjudgment - it's virtually scrawled across the screen that Sue Ellen is getting some life lessons and becoming a young adult. The film could have done without the 'boyfriend' storyline though - it's without doubt the saggiest part of the film.

More interesting is the Kenny storyline. Younger brother Kenny goes from being a hopeless layabout stoner with no inkling to as what he wants to do in life to a man with a plan. Lack of screen time prohibits us from truly understanding why, but we do get an insight into the film's message - the real world is about sacrifice. Kenny must throw away his carefree existence if he wants to become a man.

Sure, this film has faults like pearls on a string - the annoying smaller children who eat up screen time and contribute nothing but an unbearable cuteness (and they're not even that cute: they steal money from their mom's purse - twice.) Sue Ellen's corporate life is shown as patronizingly simple, but that's a fault of all movies in general, you can't have clever successful people as the heroes because the audience feels intimidated. The other major fault I'm going to point out is the chronic lack of laughs. About the biggest giggle was David Duchovny's horrendous yellow shirt. But "Don't Tell Mom," much like its characters, has an innocent, naive charm about it, and if you can put aside your critical mauling instinct, it won't be the worst two hours of your celluloid life.

Keep your eyes peeled for a throwaway reference to Big.


14 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Lines from Dont Tell Mom the babysitters dead IhAvEaPhDinTV
Cucumber line lacdipi
Another dubbed line: 'Liza?' mikebrace
How did they pay for the fashion show? khloesweeney
Can't believe they are talking about a remake! SaveDTMTBD91
When Christina Applegate walked into her brother's room... joe-809

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