First in my “movies inspired by the book I’m editing” series. The manuscript was about a working mother, trying to balance it all, so I made a list
Here we have the cult classic Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead from 1991. This is my origin story when it comes to cinematic working women. I have a memory of watching this in the theatre with my cousin while our grandmother watched JFK, but there seems to be a six-month gap between the release dates. I would have been eight or nine. I can still see how annoyed she was with us when our movie ended first and we went to find her during one of her movie’s most crucial scenes.
First thing, I’m cracking up at Mom’s line, “Because I’ve had a very rough thirty-seven years, and I need a break,” which is spoken by Concetta Tomei (no relation), who was forty-six at the time the film was released. (I, by the way, am thirty-five and do not have one kid, let alone five). The freedom with which seventeen-year-old Sue Ellen smokes in front of her mom is also pretty funny.
And here’s Kenny, Keith Coogan, Brad from 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting, probably my favorite instance of stunt casting ever, and one I only figured out about six years ago. I never realized he gets the only “fuck” in this PG-13 movie, when his brand new potted pot plant falls off the window ledge.
The only mention of bio-dad: “What about Dad? What about blackmailing Dad?”
When Mom calls, Swell tells her Mrs. Sturak has a date with a mortician, which is true.
Swell’s fashion sense: Stevie Nicks meets…Blossom?
Pausing on her resume, I noticed Swell not only made herself a Vassar gal, but she gave herself an MA from the Fashion Institute of New York…and later, when Rose glances over it, there’s a Vogue summer internship. Bell Jar reference? Some of that “glamorous fashion stuff.“ Her address is 201 Bent Rd and her phone number is (213) 353-8361.
The close-up of Applegate’s bushy eyebrows!
Really bad dubbing of “Liza?!?” in the drag queen car-theft scene. Apparently, the original line was “Shit!”
Ah, Bryan, you sweet, sweet nerd: “It really cracked Mr. Egg when you left.”
And never forget, the fax machine burps at her.
Cathy, who loves QED reports, is already known from Twin Peaks at this point and will also feature as the voice of Fifi the feather duster in that year’s Beauty and the Beast. Her Twin Peaks co-star, David Duchovny, is simultaneously playing the crossdressing agent Dennis/Denise Bryson at the time of filming.
The cucumber joke…my best friend and I used to argue about the implied innuendo there. I said there was one; she said there wasn’t. She was always considered the experienced one.
Kenny’s Julia Child-inspired cooking rampage reminds me of my boyfriend.
Carolyn is telling her brother to call the girlfriend, then changes her tune midstride to tell him just to forget about her.
That Kenny was with-it enough to tell the hospital Walter was Sue Ellen’s son is impressive.
“They’re all just a bunch of old whores,” Rose says about the fashion buyers.
Setting up what I’d been waiting for this whole rewatch: “Life’s Rich Tapestry” from Modern English. When I first started grooving to this song on Spotify, I couldn’t place it to a scene, so I thought it must have been the closing credits, but it drops in as Rose and Sue Ellen are talking and really picks up when Kenny and his stoner bro are sitting on the bridge across the pool. It’s all the happy ending stuff, which makes me very glad. It fades out as Swell approaches Bryan, and that’s so “I Only Have Eyes for You” (their first-kiss song) can pick up again. And I still think “Swell, what are you doing New Year’s Eve?” is a sweetly romantic line, if a little nerdy.
One of the funeral home workers is also named Brian. Odd. When I was a kid, I didn’t get the joke, and I thought he was Walter all grown up (they have the same hair).