Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (2024)

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1991’s “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” is one of my favorite 90’s films. It’s also a painfully underrated comedy that, despite being marketed as a dark comedy, is actually a charming, fun coming of age teen comedy in the vein of “Working Girl.” Wade Allain-Marcus’ remake is shockingly not a bad movie at all, either, it’s just completely unnecessary. I don’t think anyone was begging for a remake of “Don’t Tell Mom…” when all was said and done. But lo and behold we got one, and I’m still not sure who this movie is aimed towards.

Director Marcus and co. build this new version for a modern setting and rather than trying to outdo the original it props itself up more as a companion piece (original stars Keith Coogan, Danielle Harris, and Joanna Cassidy make charming cameos, too). “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” doesn’t really bear a ton of difference from the original film. It’s still a family comedy that begins on a dark note and veers in to a tale about a young woman coming of age. This time, we meet Tanya Crandell, a high schooler planning to vacation to Rome for the summer.

When her single mother is forced to take a mental health sabbatical in another country, she’s forced to stay home with her brothers and sister. But they’re handed over to a tyrannical elderly babysitter (June Squibb in an all too brief walk on appearance). When she dies unexpectedly, they conceal her death but also have to figure out a way to make money with their mom away. Tanya takes a job at a fashion company called Libra and works overtime to support the family, while they experience their own growing pains. Thankfully, the modern “Don’t Tell Mom…” works in its own capacity allowing for its own comedic potential.

Every element from the original film is either repurposed or dismissed in favor of a sleeker story. For one, the creepy sub-plot of the boss’s flirtatious boyfriend is side stepped, while the work place politics theme is completely under played. The film is carried mainly by the strong performances by the collective cast including Simone Joy Jones who is very good in the lead role once held by Christina Applegate. Donielle Hansley is also fun taking the mantle of Kenny, the slacker younger brother. While he’s not as funny as Keith Coogan, he has his moments.

“Don’t Tell Mom…” 2024 is virtually critic proof and as more of an adaptation than a remake, it bears it charms here and there. It won’t take the place of the original any time soon, but I was never bored.