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

Unfortunately, many of these comic opportunities fall flat in the execution. Shoddy line deliveries keep you from recognizing the joke, requiring a few seconds of processing time to land. The performances often feel responsible for this; they feel uncanny and solitary as if the cast were projecting lines to the expectant ears of a studio audience that doesn’t exist. While this awkward independence of the functioning characters muddles some moments, it doesn’t entirely erase the recognizable humor that remains consistent throughout.

Jones acquits herself quite well in her first role as a leading lady. She displays a formidable amount of range, from the short fuse of an eldest sister’s stoicism to the personal and professional confidence she develops as the summer pushes her to expand her comfort zone. The dynamics of the sibling ensemble are also generally believable in their moments of union and annoyance. Hensley Jr. is a reliable source of comic relief, and his antics test his siblings’ patience and perseverance. 

Tanya’s employee-employer relationships with Rose and her budding romance with aspiring architect Bryan (Miles Fowler) get more screen time than those with her siblings, making “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” more of a portrait of her than that of the family. While Richie’s performance is rather flat and one-note, it’s a testament to the hollow girlboss identity the film crafts in the shape of a chronically-online millennial Miranda Priestly. At the same time, the chemistry between Tanya and Bryan is the most persistent: Fowler and Jones feel natural, weaving through the attraction, timidity, and frustrations of young, insecure, and poorly communicated relationships. Yet this particular pairing has the least bearing on the film’s events, and this display of potential exacerbates the desire for magnetism in the core sibling dynamic.

“Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” is laid-back and funny but ultimately whiffs on its swings too many times to make a lasting impression. It has all the right components, earnestly eliciting a few chuckles and a true investment in its characters. Still, it comes together like a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces aren’t fully pressed into place: a flimsy portrait of teen comedy and coming-of-age that won’t stand the test of time.