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

Directed By Wade Allain-Marcus

Starring – Simone Joy Jones, Nicole Ritchie, June Squibb

The Plot – Seventeen-year-old Tanya Crandell (Jones) can’t wait to spend the summer living it up with her friends in Spain before heading to Howard University in the fall. But when her mom (Ms. Pat) decides to head to a much-needed wellness retreat in Thailand, Tanya is forced to stay home with her three siblings instead. Following the unexpected death of their elderly babysitter (Squibb), Tanya gets a job working for the confident and ambitious Rose (Nicole Richie). Juggling work, family, and a complicated romance, Tanya faces the responsibility of adulthood at the cost of her summer of freedom.

Rated R for teen drug use, adult language and some sexual references

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead | Official Trailer | Simone Joy Jones, Patricia Williams (


Shockingly, it has been 33 years since the original film of the same name, but unlike most contemporary remakes looking to cash in on name value alone, Allain-Marcus instills meaning and justification to this newest installment, which I feel most audiences will pull something uniquely appealing from. For starters, the characters this time around feel far more fleshed out, both in the constructs of their designs, as well as the expansion of their various evolutions. This is especially the case for Tanya, who initially I found myself alienated by in the depths of her character’s immaturity, but eventually found myself invested in the various plates of responsibility that she has to continuously balance. Unlike Christina Applegate’s Sue-Ellen, who essentially felt like the same character from start to finish, Tanya grows with experience the longer the film persists, and when coupled with the depth prescribed to her on-screen siblings that far succeeds the original’s ensemble, I found a greater appreciation for the commitment to people over types that unfortunately many black comedies aren’t given. Speaking of that cultural shift, the dynamic from white to black does imbed several unique shifts in the way various conflicts are approached, but none more prominently effective than that of the central plot, in which a racist, unhealthy elderly woman dies in their house. When the body goes limp, the kids are conflicted with calling the cops based on the preconceived notions of black people standing over a white corpse, so it’s a bit easier to go along with the charade based on their own sociological fears that we bare witness to during one tensely stomach-churning scene involving a police officer stopping by the house, as a result of a falsified 911 call. Likewise, the technological advancements of cell phones and the internet make it all the easier for Tanya to initiate her falsified work history, or even fill in the gaps of exposition during certain dynamics that I wasn’t intrigued by, with on-screen bubbles of text in conversation that coincided alongside the forefront of the narrative, without the need to waste precious minutes on them. In addition to this, the production has a lot of admiration for that 91′ original movie, especially in finding ways to continuously imbed fan service and familiarity to this occasion that proves its cherished history. Does it go a little overboard in certain areas? Absolutely, but I will say that this film has more than a few clever surprises that aren’t just limited to surprise cameos, especially one crossroads scene where we learn that the two movies do in fact exist in the same universe. The material is also mostly effective at generating laughs, especially with the much-appreciated upgrade from PG-13 to R that this film feels lucky to receive. That isn’t to say that this movie is a downright crude and obnoxious engagement, but rather it knows where to punch the proper emphasis towards intended punchlines, leading to more than a few long-winded laughs that did breed originality in ways that the script wasn’t always capable towards delivering. Lastly, the performances to go along with those aforementioned detailed character upgrades mostly materialized something vital towards the various constructs, especially Jones and on-screen brother Donielle T. Hansley, who bring so much energy and personality to the proceedings. For Jones, it’s a full-fledged coming out party, involving her to portray careless teenager one second, while glue of the household in the next, and while this shifting dynamic would cripple weaker actresses towards making it feel like nothing has changed about the character, the dramatic depth that she imbeds to the character brandishes in the mileage of the journey, allowing her to make the character her own, despite obviously big shoes to fill. As for Hansley, he’s given much of the film’s comedic muscle, and he continuously flexes it with humility and timing that feel miles ahead of your typical 15-year-old actor, especially in knowing how to vividly bring out the ignorance and immaturity of the character that involves this family taking one step forward and two steps backwards.


In terms of the changes that don’t reach success, there were quite a few character designs and performances this time around that left more to be desired, especially since they feel so outdated in a film with such a refreshing evolution to an original film that was a product of its time. Nicole Ritchie is the obvious offender here, as she not only lacks any of the heart and compassion that made Joanna Cassidy feel like a motherly advisor to Sue-Ellen during the original movie, but also feels wound too tightly in her emotional portrayal that frequently annoyed me, each time she comes on screen. Likewise, the double dose of Fowler’s, Jermaine and Miles, doesn’t do much better, especially with the former being reduced to a glorified cameo who feels tragically miscast as a corporate sexual deviant, and the latter coming across as a stalker, despite him being the primary love interest for Tanya. Being a huge fan of Jermaine, I feel like the movie could’ve benefited greatly from his exubberant charisma, but instead we’re left with a one-dimensional design that leaves him little wiggle room towards making the movie his own, with as much screen time as any of the on-screen extras without a single line of dialogue to their portrayal. Aside from some underwhelming performances, the script isn’t fully capable of creating a completely fresh take on the story, especially with so many of the familiar scenes being echoed quite literally word for word. Fan service is to be expected in a spiritual successor, but when it comes at the constant reminder of a film that you could be watching, it’s sacrificial towards its own originality, and I for one wish that the film didn’t borrow so heavily ingrained in the minds of its passionate audience, especially those that don’t exactly age well within a sociologically responsible lens. Finally, while the film clocks in at a brief 94 minute run time, I found much of the storytelling to feel rushed and undercooked in its execution, especially during an opening act that takes us through around forty minutes of the original film, during the first fifteen minutes of this one. A lot of this can be laid at the responsibility of the editing, with some untimely jumps that spring forth unfulfilled satisfaction in various resolutions. However, I would also consider that we’re given such little time or long-term conflict to grow within this established world that it often dramatically undercuts the stakes and circumstances of the entire investment, in turn lacking the kind of urgency and bleakness of the original that drove much of the conflict, which here has been traded in for neatly tidy resolutions that deduce too much story to a run time with not enough opportunity to properly orchestrate it.

“Don’t Tell Mom’s the Babysitter’s Dead” isn’t quite the uninspired cash grab remake that we were expecting, but it does fall suspect to some of its vital aspects that made the original such a cherished cult classic. With surprisingly deeper detailed characters spawing a duo of dazzling performances, as well as a culturally refreshing backdrop involving entirely unique dynamics, the film is able to capably justify its own existence without sacrificing the integrity of its iconic predecessor, cementing that rare reimagining that deserves to be told.

My Grade: 6/10 or C+

2 thoughts on “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (2024)

  1. Ya know, I loved the original film growing up so much. In an age where everything is getting a remake I’m even glad to see one with possible potential for not only a decently executed fresh take on the movie, but for that punch of nostalgia I crave. Thanks for the awesome review!

  2. Thank you for the intricate review! I haven’t seen the movie that came before this one but I know now I want to check it out before seeing this one. I really enjoyed reading this because of all the different things you addressed. I appreciate the insight of this movie before seeing it.

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