It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Even though this movie is named "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead," the babysitter plays a minute part. Perhaps I will not be revealing too much if I say that she dies, shortly after appearing on the scene. The only purpose of the babysitter is to provide an excuse for Mom to leave on an extended tour of Australia with her fiance, while the five kids are left behind at home; the movie's a sort of teenage version of "Home Alone," which also had an awkward time of explaining why the parents weren't there.
Once the babysitter dies and her body is deposited anonymously on the steps of a funeral home, the movie is free to reveal its real purpose: This is a consumerist, escapist fantasy for teenage girls, starring TV's Christina Applegate ("Married . . . with Children") as a 17-year-old who gets to act out experiences that most girls her age only dream about. Her life turns into an article from Cosmo crossed with a photo spread from Glamour.
The story's premise, as the title hints none too subtly, is that the kids want to run free for a summer, while their mother's away. But the money that Mom left behind turns out to have been buried with the babysitter, so the kids have to support themselves.
Applegate tries working at a fast-food restaurant for a day, but the grease gets to her, so she fakes a resume and applies for a job as a receptionist at a garment manufacturing company. Her resume is so impressive that the vice president (Joanna Cassidy) hires her on the spot as an executive assistant. And at last we have arrived at the real subject of this movie, which is how a 17-year-old girl might fake it as a 28-year-old college graduate with lots of job experience.