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Review: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Great adaptation of a comedy classic

  • Release year: 2024
  • Director: Wade Allain-Marcus.
  • Producers: Juliet Berman, Juliana Maio, Justin Nappi and Oren Segal.
  • Screenplay by: Chuck Hayward.
  • Cinematographers: Matt Clegg.
  • Music by: Jonathan Scott Friedman.

Synopsis: four kids are left alone for the summer under the care of a babysitter who dies within 24 hours of looking after them.

Shotgun Commentary: fun sitcom that will raise your stress levels to then give you the most chill resolution possible.

Kenny (Donielle T. Hansley), Tanya (Simone Joy Jones) and Melissa (Ayaamii Sledge). Source: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (Wade Allain-Marcus, 2024).

Review

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead follows the adventures and misfortunes of four siblings who are forced to fend for themselves for the summer without the supervision of any adults. Due to a breakdown at work (or a completely understandable reaction, depending on who you ask), the mother of the protagonists goes to a retreat to relax. To do so, she hires a babysitter to look after the kids. She also forbids the eldest to go to Spain so she can also keep an eye on her younger siblings.

All hell breaks loose when the babysitter, a very old woman who makes herself as unlikeable as possible in the very little screen time she has, dies, very likely from a heart attack. Since the whole family is black, but the babysitter is white, the children decide to stage an accident that won’t involve them so they won’t have trouble with the police. The babysitter’s money is lost during the staging of her death. Consequently, the eldest pretends to be an adult to get a job and provide for everyone until their mother returns.

Grasping at straws

The premise is weak at best. The commentary about police racism is taken to the extreme for comedy purposes, which is a nice touch. Regrettably, the fact that they don’t call their mother to avoid stressing her is a terrible excuse. In fact, it is almost as unbelievable as the fact that the parent doesn’t check in ONCE for three months.

Mrs. Sturak (June Squibb). Source: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead
(Wade Allain-Marcus, 2024).

However, these facts pale in comparison to the reason why the eldest daughter has to find a job, but her brother, almost of the same age, doesn’t. That reason is that the brother is a piece of sexist garbage. He is perfectly content abusing the good will of his sister while behaving like the millionaire he is not. Yet, somehow, that whole ordeal is skimmed through like it’s no biggie.

Doubling on the ick

All the characters go through an amazing evolution, except for the youngest sibling who, despite being a weirdo, is a pretty nice person from the beginning. The eldest sibling, Tanya (Simone Joy Jones), learns the most of all of them. She finds a new respect for her mother and all the sacrifices she makes to keep them fed and happy, as well as discovering responsibility and getting a taste of adulthood. The younger daughter, Melissa (Ayaamii Sledge), learns to appreciate reality. Lastly, the oldest brother, Kenny (Donielle T. Hansley Jr.), learns…to cook?

Tanya (Simone Joy Jones). Source: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead
(Wade Allain-Marcus, 2024).

Kenny is the most toxic character. He completely disregards equality in the domestic environment and showcases an overall lack of respect towards his sister. He forces her to get a job after he loses the game of chance that would decide who works. And worst of all, Tanya agrees! For no reason other than the fact that he would be annoying otherwise. So, essentially, she sacrifices her next three months slaving away to avoid one of his tantrums. Then, he learns to follow cooking videos, and that’s it? That is his whole journey, learning how to cook?

Yes… and no

It is great to create an accurate representation of sexism in the modern times, especially showcasing how this pandemic affects also the younger generations, who are not even phased when seeing sexist behaviour, as you can see through the complete lack of reaction of the younger siblings. Regrettably, the film fails to actually solve, or even properly acknowledge, this issue, portraying it as an unavoidable reality that one can only ignore and endure.

All in all, the film is funny and, if you have a strong heart to take the chaos in which the kids bury themselves, you will enjoy it a lot. The only big mistake one can find is the monster of sexism lurking behind every scene, going unnoticed while it does as it pleases. While the original version is way worse in that regard, thirty years is enough time to identify these problematic behaviours and use comedy to denounce rather than to trivialise them.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • If you win a chance game, don’t let the loser talk you into losing too.
  • Learning how to cook from YouTube is NOT the same as saving a company from going down.
  • Stealing money from your own family is not cute, no matter how young you are nor how wholesome your intentions.
Rose (Nicole Richie). Source: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead
(Wade Allain-Marcus, 2024).

What’s your take? Have you watched Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead? Did you like this film better than the original? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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