Picks and Pans Review: Don't Tell Mom
Christina Applegate, Joanna Cassidy
Usually a comedy where a mom goes off on a summer-long trip and leaves her five children with a shrewish old biddy of a baby-sitter generates sympathy for the kids. In this case, however, the kids are such hateful brats that being shipped off to Devil's Island would not be unreasonable treatment for them.
Applegate, of TV's Married...with Children, plays a teen princess fresh out of high school who takes over the family after the baby-sitter dies. (The kids don't alert Mom because they like the notion of total freedom.) As the others prank it up, she becomes relatively likable. Her younger siblings, however, lie, steal, smoke, exploit and generally snarl around. They are charmless brats, charmlessly played by Keith Coogan, Christopher Pettiet, Danielle Harris and Robert Hy Gorman.
Things go from bad to off the charts after Applegate wheedles her way into a job as an assistant to Cassidy, too sweet by a carload as an L.A. fashion executive. The silly events that follow—Applegate has to save the company—might have been forgivable, but this script by Neil Landau and Tara Ison (Doogie Howser, M.D. collaborators) resorts to an "Oh, expletive!" every other punch line. The movie's funniest line is a straight one, when Josh Charles, Applegate's love interest, earnestly tells her, "I don I know if I want oceanography to be my life."
Here, in short, is a movie that makes Home Alone seem like a deeply intellectual comedy. (PG-13)