‘Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead’ Review: The Laughs Are Alive Featuring Work from Innovative's Costume Designer Ceci
April 11, 2024

Written by Amy Nicholson, New York Times

Don’t tell helicopter parents, but the gleefully transgressive flicks that entertained a generation of latchkey wildlings are coming back in style. Wade Allain-Marcus’s rollicking update of the 1991 cult favorite keeps the plot — a 17-year-old slacker named Tanya (Simone Joy Jones) is forced to support her even lazier younger siblings (Donielle Hansley Jr., Ayaamii Sledge and Carter Young) — and amps up the immoral humor. It’s a snappy, gutsy comedy about how kids are spoiled and ignorant, and yet the adult workplace is only passingly more mature.

A Black single mother (Patricia Williams) has a nervous breakdown and leaves her four children in the care of an aged tyrant (June Squibb) for the summer. Squibb has played plenty of cackling grannies; even so, Ms. Sturak is her most unhinged. “I watch Madea movies! I know how to discipline you!” she screams, pistol in hand. Those sensitive to slurs will be relieved when she keels over. So are the kids, who ignominiously dispose of the corpse and then realize they need money for food.

The rapid-fire script by Chuck Hayward squeezes a joke into every sentence and an economic dig into almost every scene. Tanya is aghast that a rideshare driving shift barely covers a restaurant bill; later, her new boss (Nicole Richie) at a fast-fashion brand shrugs off a rash of factory employee suicides. Even condensing the story, there’s no fixing the ridiculous ending by which point the film is out of gas. But despite being affixed to the guardrails of a reboot, this naughty thrill boasts some boisterous jolts and a charming romance between Tanya and a more emotionally developed boy (Miles Fowler) who inspires her to grow up.

Costume Designer: Ceci

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