Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead starts with an enjoyable, if crude, black comedy situation promised by the title, but then it turns into an incredibly dumb teenage girl’s fantasy of making it in the business world.
Christina Applegate and her four siblings (Keith Coogan, Robert Hy Gorman, Danielle Harris, Christopher Pettiet) are left by their ditzy vacationing mom (Concetta Tomei) in their suburban LA home with a seemingly sweet old lady babysitter (Eda Reiss Merin), who turns out to be a ‘deranged Mary Poppins.’
Following the old lady’s death from a heart attack, Applegate has to earn money to support the kids so they won’t have to ask mom to come home from Australia. The leaden script turns mind-numbingly silly. Applegate improbably parlays a padded resume into a high-paying job as administrative assistant to glamorous LA garment industry exec Joanna Cassidy.
Though she has promise, Applegate is misused in a part making her seem more airheaded than shrewd. Cassidy, whose mature sexiness livens the film for a while, is gradually made to look more and more ridiculous by the pic’s clumsy director, Stephen Herek.