Shocking Remake Alert: ‘Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead’ is Alive and Kicking!

The peril of revamping a cherished movie is no secret. The 1991 comedic film “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead,” which starred Christina Applegate, wasn’t exactly a hit with critics over three decades ago, yet it has grown into a cult classic, particularly among older millennials who were raised on the film. It serves as the perfect framework for a reboot: The original isn’t seen as sacred, it has a recognizable title, and it can be smoothly adjusted to fit contemporary times, all while stoking the nostalgia of those who adored the original.

Nostalgia can be a pitfall, one that writer Chuck Hayward and director Wade Allain-Marcus skillfully avoid. There are sufficient references to the original film to satisfy fans hunting for hidden gems, but these don’t hinder the story itself, a teen comedy that remains grounded, despite the exaggerated circumstances. The filmmakers also transition the family from being white to Black, adding a new dimension to the situation.

When their mother (Patricia “Ms. Pat” Williams) experiences a mental collapse at work, the Crandell children are left in the care of Mrs. Sturak (June Squibb), a seemingly sweet elderly woman who turns out to be a nagging, racist, slut-shaming despot. She unexpectedly dies from shock — or possibly secondhand smoke — when a wild party thrown by the kids at the house becomes too overwhelming for her. In an effort to avoid the police, the Crandell kids dispose of her body, along with her purse filled with money from their mother.

Without wishing to disturb their psychologically fragile mother, who’s away at a meditation retreat in Thailand, it falls on the eldest sister Tanya (Simone Joy Jones) to secure a job and provide for her siblings. Her plans for a carefree summer are dashed as she now navigates the harsh realities of a Los Angeles morning commute and ruthless office politics at a fashion company called Libra. Simultaneously, her skater brother Kenny (Donielle T. Hansley Jr.) must pull himself together to manage the household.

See also  Breaking: 'Rust' Armorer Hannah Gutierrez Gets Shocking 18-Month Prison Sentence!

Part of the charm of the original film was Applegate’s performance in her first significant film role (she was already famous due to “Married … With Children”), where she played the oldest sister Sue Ellen. Jones exudes a similar charm, portraying a likable teenager who is out of her depth yet manages to flourish in a professional setting.

The screenplay by Hayward isn’t exactly groundbreaking (considering this is a remake), but it successfully establishes the Crandells as one-of-a-kind and distinct characters, including the intelligent and eccentric younger brother Zack (Carter Young) and the grim gaming tween Melissa (Ayaamii Sledge). Their interactions at home are amusing and natural, and their warranted distrust of the police leads to real consequences and influences their questionable choices.

The only weak link in the family is Williams, a stand-up comedian whose small, underdeveloped role as the Crandell kids’ mother doesn’t showcase her talents. On the other hand, Tanya’s newfound mentor at Libra is portrayed by Nicole Richie, whose dynamic and invigorating presence onscreen makes you wonder why she doesn’t act more frequently. She shares genuine chemistry with Jones.

This is the first major feature directed by Allain-Marcus, an actor who co-starred on “Insecure,” and he does a considerable amount to show off his skills and influences as a filmmaker here. The cinematography by Matt Clegg is sharp and vibrant, featuring many complicated tracking shots, and there are hints of ’70s-style filmmaking and retro touches like the yellow title font that appears about 18 minutes into the film. Some of these elements are slightly inconsistent with the material yet indicate a fresh voice eager to experiment with the genre of teen comedy.

See also  Shocking Truths Unveiled as Woman Escapes from Abuser in 'Shayda' - A Scandal of Patriarchy!

“Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” is unexpectedly genuine and entertaining for a remake, which is inherently formulaic. Its emphasis on character development makes this film stand out and could turn Jones into a star, as she, like her character, succeeds in holding everything together.

Katie Walsh is a Tribune News Service film critic.

Similar posts:

Rate this post

Leave a Comment