8
Jul 04

FT Top 100 Films 67: DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD

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FT Top 100 Films
67: DON’T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTER’S DEAD

Now there is a title to conjure with. Put your best foot forward, sock them with an audacious title and maybe they will come back for me. And in the most part the film does fulfill its remit. What is more surprising that it is just as satisfying to watch from an adult perspective, for completely different reasons.

The plot: its in the title. Mom goes of on a much deserved break, there is no Pop in this scenario. In wheels creaky old bat who dun goes and drops dead. What follows is much home alone lunacy to sort out thw ish fulfillment side of the equation. Kids watching are happy. But then the money runs out (well it is spent on expensive sound systems and ice cream). So the eldest of the bunch, played by Christina Applegate, has to get a job. And this she does by pretending to be massively over qualified. Again the kids may smile as they see her innate understanding of the target audience in the fashion firm she eventually lands at (herself) overcomes her lack of experience.

And then it gets good for the thirtysomething overworked office peon. Because the fairy tale story just cannot continue. Also we need some drama with out levity. And it turns out that working, even if you are a natural, is bloody hard. Its not just knowing how to operate the fax machine, its getting through a day and then getting home and trying to have a laugh. Perhaps the film felt it was just being responsible, in case kids went out there and bumped off their babysitters l, r and c. But it over-eggs the pudding a touch, making Applegate grow up too fast (boo hoo) and also make her into a harridan at home. That’s right, sucker he kids in with the honey of wish fulfillment, and then slap the roach motel of real life on their backs.

Unassuming, direct, Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitters Dead is much better at judging the modern malaise of work/life balance than any more serious adult think-piece. And its set-piece fashion show ending is a riot of bad taste.

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