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File:DontTellMomTheBabysittersDead 975.jpg

Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead is a 1991 comedy starring Christina Applegate.

When their mother goes to Australia for the summer, the Crandell children are loath to find themselves in the charge of a crotchety old babysitter. When she promptly dies, they decide to keep that key fact from their mother so they can enjoy their summer with no adults to tell them what to do. However, their scant funds soon run out, followed by their food. Oldest daughter Sue Ellen must figure out how to take care of her younger siblings while keeping their mother in the dark.


Provides Examples Of:

  • Accidental Pervert: Gus propositions Sue Ellen several times to which she refuses, and he has no intention of letting up. He doesn't know it, but she's 17.
  • Anything That Moves: Gus gets around a lot and wastes no time trying to get Sue Ellen into bed.
  • Benevolent Boss: Sue Ellen's boss Rose at GAW is definitely this, even forgiving her for her deception when it is revealed, and offering her a job for real.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Rose well and truly takes Sue Ellen under her wing, helping to nuture her career and protect her form the machinations of Carolyn and Bruce.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Averted with Carolyn, and how. She wears her bitchiness on her sleeve...and it also bitches at you! Played straight with Mrs. Sturak.
  • Brick Joke: After the babysitter, Mrs. Sturak, dies in her sleep, the kids put her body in a travel case and drop it off at the morgue. She's only briefly mentioned a few times afterward (when the kids' mother calls for Mrs. Sturak, they make up excuses for her absence), and her Buick is soon stolen by drag queens. The film ends with the kids' mother asking, "Where is the babysitter?"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mr. Egg, the manager of Clown Dog.
  • Cool Car: Sue Ellen keeps and drives Mrs. Sturak's Buick because "it's a classic."
  • Credit Card Plot: The younger kids get into Sue Ellen's petty cash from work and go nuts with it. They spend three times what her check turns out to be.
  • Cucumber Facial: Rose suggests Sue Ellen relax after work by having a glass of wine and giving herself a cucumber facial.
  • Disappeared Dad: The Crandells' father is mentioned only briefly and not favorably.

 Melissa: I wish Dad was here.

Mom: No you don't.

 Kenny: Those queens stole our car!

Sue Ellen: Liza?

  • Eat the Dog: After the kids return home from the supermarket and only being able to afford the necessities, one of the kids jokes about using their pet dog as emergency rations.

 Melissa: When our food's gone, we can eat Elvis!

  • Fiction Business Savvy: The new fashion designs did not look cool in the 1990's or in the world of fashion.
  • Free-Range Children: Subverted since Sue Ellen is almost 18 and pretending to be 27. Played straight with everyone else. In all fairness, their mom did hire a babysitter to avoid this trope.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Again, the line about all women over 25 having a cucumber in the house.
  • Hard Work Montage: When they clean up the house before the fashion show.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!!:
    • Fox Mulder as a slimy office nitwit?
    • Kelly Bundy finally applied herself, BS'd into a job, and did pretty darn well.
  • Hot Mom: From her co-workers' perspectives, Sue Ellen appears to be this.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Sue Ellen (17) and Rose (40's) become close friends as the movie progesses.
  • Jerkass: Gus again.
  • Karma Houdini: The drag queens most likely got away with stealing the Buick since Sue Ellen and her siblings didn't report it to the police, Mrs. Sturak was dead, and none of Mrs. Sturak's family (if any exists) were informed of her death. Even if they got pulled over, they could say they borrowed it since it was not reported stolen.
  • Lipstick and Load Montage: When Sue Ellen is getting dressed for her job interview at GAW.
  • Metalhead: Kenny.
  • Opposites Attract: Averted. Bruce and Carolyn are both petty, vindictive, and slimy people. They seem perfectly happy together.
  • Poster Gallery Bedroom: Mrs. Sturak stumbles into the Kenny's bedroom and reacts in horror at all the heavy metal posters on the walls. It's implied to give her a fatal heart attack that kicks off the plot.
  • Power Hair: In order to help pass as an "Executive Administrative Assistant", Sue Ellen puts her hair up in a fancy french twist.
  • Promotion to Parent: Sue Ellen
  • Really Seventeen Years Old: Sue Ellen lies about her age and falsifies a resume in order to get a job with a fashion agency. Everyone there assumes she's in her mid 20s.
  • He Cleans Up Nicely: Kenny, which causes Nicole to finally notice him.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The apathy displayed by the Crandell siblings towards their own mother, let alone Mrs Sturak, places the film firmly in the late 80's/early 90's era, when movie parents were far more often depicted as incompetent bunglers and/or overly strict, requiring avoidance at all costs.

 Sue Ellen: Do you really want to go crawling to aunt Pat, or one of Mom's semi-wretched friends?

  • Smoking Is Cool: Rose, and Sue Ellen on occasion.
  • Stealing From the Till: Sue Ellen "borrows" the funds in her petty cash check to feed the family, figuring she'll pay it back when she gets her paycheck.
  • The Stoner: Kenny.
  • Success Symbiosis: Sue Ellen gets a job in the fashion industry by lying about her age and keeps it because a mostly overlooked employee from another department is doing all the hard stuff for her.
  • Technology Marches On: Sue Ellen, as a high-schooler, has no idea how to operate the GAW fax-machine (an essential piece of office kit in 1991), but the irony is that arguably most modern high-schoolers in 2011 would also be pretty stumped at how to operate this now out-moded device.
    • Also, simply the fact that when showing Sue Ellen her computer, Rose proudly pointed out the mouse like it was state of the art. YMMV but may be Truth in Television as most PC users in '91 were still using DOS-based computers. Windows 3.0 came out in 1990, but Fridge Brilliance kicks in when you realize most big companies are slow to upgrade their workstations, home computers weren't as ubiquitous as they are today, and Apple wasn't cool yet. As such, the mouse probably was state of the art to them.
    • Their office was using Lotus. Also, Sue Ellen wrote her resume on a typewriter. At least the CD changer during the fashion show still looks semi-current, though.
  • Tomboy: Melissa.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: This movie is painfully early 90s, caused mostly by it's focus on fashion. The catwalk show finale is particularly exemplary, and is a riot of gaudy neon and spandex.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of Mrs. Sturak's body and the money is finally answered right before the credits. She was given a nice burial by the mortuary workers who found the money and spent it in Vegas. Her tombstone reads the same as the note the kids left with her - "Nice Old Lady Inside. Died of Natural Causes."
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Rose actually begs Sue Ellen to work for her after a quick skim-read through her (ridiculously embellished) resumé in the office reception.
  • Woman Scorned: Carolyn, who seems like a top grade female dog even before Sue Ellen takes the job she was after. She sets out to destroy Sue Ellens prospects at GAW.
  • Zany Scheme: Arguably, the whole movie.
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