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Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991, Christina Applegate, David Duchovny)

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When Mom (CONCETTA TOMEI) goes on a two-month holiday to Australia, she leaves her five children, ranging from six to 17, in the charge of elderly disciplinarian EDA REISS MARIN who instantly starts to wage a war of terror against her charges. When Marin dies in her sleep after only one day the children, anxious not to ruin their mother’s vacation, and to enjoy an adult-free summer, put the body into a trunk which they label ‘Nice old lady inside … died of natural causes’ and drop the trunk off in the parking lot of a local mortuary.

But they need money to survive and it is left to the oldest sibling CHRISTINA APPLEGATE to get a job. She survives one day working at a fast-food restaurant and then applies for the job as receptionist at a clothing manufacturer. However, senior company vice-president JOANNA CASSIDY is so impressed by Applegate’s faked CV that she hires her as her personal assistant at $37,500 a year.

And while Applegate knows nothing of the executive jungle, she does know a great deal about contemporary fashion and helps save the company from bankruptcy. Meanwhile, at home, chaos reigns. Scruffy eldest brother KEITH COOGAN has been left in charge but under his lax command home life rapidly disintegrates. Younger brothers CHRISTOPHER PETTIET and ROBERT HY GORMAN steal the office petty cash from Applegate’s handbag to pay for a diamond ring for Pettiet’s girlfriend and for an expensive home entertainment system. At work, Cassidy’s lecherous boyfriend JOHN GETZ makes advances on Applegate while her relations with her own boyfriend JOSH CHARLES sour for a while when she discovers he is the brother of her co-worker JAYNE BROOK who is plotting against her. Then Gorman suffers a freak accident that has a sobering effect on his siblings and puts them back on the path of righteousness in time for Tomei’s unexpected return…

‘The movie is about the idea of freedom being better than the reality when you’re a kid’, said director Stephen Herek whose previous comedy success had been the hit Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. ‘Even though your mother drives you crazy with her nagging, you need a mother. And eventually, the kids are glad to have one, even if it’s only their sister’.

production details
USA | 105 minutes | 1991

Director: Stephen Herek
Script: Neil Landau, Tara Ison,

cast
Christina Applegate as Sue Ellen Crandell
David Duchovny as Bruce
John Getz as Gus
Jayne Brook as Carolyn
Joanna Cassidy as Rose Lindsey
Sydney Lassick as Franklin
Josh Charles as Bryan
Keith Coogan as Kenny Crandell
Concetta Tomei as Mom
Christopher Pettiet as Zach Crandell
Danielle Harris as Melissa Crandell
Robert Hy Gorman as Walter Crandell
Eda Reiss Merin as Mrs. Sturak
Kimmy Robertson as Cathy

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