Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead – Libertarian Movie Review

Christina-Applegate-in-Dont-Tell-Mom-the-Babysitters-DeadI was out and about the other night and an attractive woman sat next to me with her date. During the course of their conversation, to which I was listening vaguely, she mentioned a Christina Applegate movie about babysitting and it reminded me of an underrated gem. Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s dead. So, of course, it’s time for a Libertarian Movie Review.

The Story

In the movie Applegate’s character, Sue Ellen, is the eldest of five siblings left home under the care of an elderly babysitter while her mother takes a summer vacation to Australia. Trouble ensues when the babysitter dies and the teens have no money to support themselves. Rather than call their mother they decide to try to make it on their own.

Sue Ellen has aspirations of a career in the fashion industry but takes a minimum wage job in fast food. She soon quits because she is being treated horribly by a manager. She then creates a false resume hoping to get a job as a receptionist at a fashion house. Impressed by the resume, a company executive hires Sue Ellen as an assistant.

Sue Ellen excels at her job and impresses her boss although also gains the enmity of a jealous co-worker. Meanwhile her marijuana obsessed brother is forced to feed the family on a small budget and finds that he loves cooking.

Eventually Sue Ellen ends up hosting an important fashion party for the struggling company. Her stoner brother provides an elegant dining experience while her younger siblings help as best the can.

In the end she is found out by her conniving and less competent co-worker and also the return of her mother. Rose, the executive played by Joanna Cassidy, is not dismayed and offers Sue Ellen a permanent job. Sue Ellen refuses but is promised by her now former boss help in gaining admittance to a prestigious college.

Meanwhile her brother and other siblings all gain by the experience and become the better for it.

Why it Works

From a Libertarian perspective there is a lot to like about this movie. Sue Ellen wants a career in fashion and refuses to settle for a fast food job with a terrible manager. She lies on her resume and aims high. Once on the job she solves problems creatively and effectively despite sabotage from a co-worker. Her brother is wasting his life smoking marijuana but stumbles upon a career that peaks his interest and goes for it with as much gusto as Sue Ellen. When Sue Ellen is discovered she admits her guilt to all and is willing to accept the consequences.

Finally, and I think in one of the most important scenes in the movie, when Sue Ellen is found out by Rose all is not lost. Certainly Sue Ellen did wrong by writing a false resume but once in the position she achieved astounding success. Rose recognizes this and does not punish Sue Ellen. She instead rewards her.

Had Sue Ellen failed at her job then punishment is certainly deserved but, in this case, she did not. Sue Ellen took a chance, broke a rule, and found tremendous success in a field she loves. She also helped her brother find his way and her younger siblings as well.

Five Freedoms

I give it a rating of Five Freedoms. A hidden gem worth watching by everyone, not just Libertarians.

Tom Liberman

The Joneses – Libertarian Movie Review

The-JonesesOnce again thanks to Hulu for providing me with movie entertainment at a cost that’s just right for me (watching ads).

Today I’m going to look at the movie The Joneses from a Libertarian perspective. It’s a challenging movie to review from that angle because it contains elements that Libertarians will hate but also parts I think they will find very relatable and enjoyable.

The Joneses tells the story of Steve, Kate, Jenn, and Mick Jones played by David Duchnovy, Demi Moore, Amber Heard, and Ben Hollingsworth. They are a fake family planted into a wealthy neighborhood in order to drive sales of various products. By giving off the appearance of being sublimely happy and very good looking, other people are attracted to the products they use in the hopes of gaining such happiness for themselves.

Steve is a newcomer to this form of advertising while Kate, Jenn, and Mick are veterans with Kate being the team leader.

In some ways this is an anti-Libertarian movie in that it vilifies consumerism and the job the Joneses are doing. The Joneses do their job well and that, sadly, has tragic consequences for their neighbor Larry, played by the always effective Gary Cole. Steve eventually rejects this fake lifestyle and moves on hoping to take Kate from it as well, as he has fallen in love with her.

However, it also espouses Libertarian ideas because the family is living a complete lie and this has obvious consequences on their own sense of self. They are lying to their new friends in the neighborhood in order to manipulate them into buying things. In an interesting moment of the movie, Mick is having second thoughts about this web of deceit and Steve tells him to think of it as connecting people with the products they want. That they are actually helping the people rather than harming them.

That’s why I find myself ambivalent about The Joneses. I loved the negative consequences of their false lifestyle. Living a lie is a bad thing. However, doing a job well is a great thing and the family did their job exceptionally well. They earned the large salary and the many luxuries they got from the various companies that were paying for their services. Consumerism is not bad in itself. Having nice things that we enjoy is good. Buying things we don’t need in order to find the happiness that is missing from our lives is, on the other hand, bad.

The company that pays the Joneses is portrayed as the bad guy which is, again, anti-Libertarian. If a company comes up with an effective way to advertise for which manufacturers are willing to pay, then it’s not the company’s fault. If people drive themselves into bankruptcy trying to keep up with the Joneses, the fault lies with those who spent more than they earned. Not the advertisers.

It’s definitely a well-acted, well-written, beautifully filmed movie. Glenne Headly does a fantastic job as the neighbor’s wife trying to sell for a Multi-Level Marketing company. This plot line is incredibly effective in displaying the power of the marketing strategy employed by the Joneses. From a man-perspective, Moore and Heard are exceptionally easy on the eyes.

In the end I will give this movie $$$ (on a 5$ scale). It just had too many anti-Libertarian qualities for me to highly recommend it despite the excellent production qualities.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Girl in Glass I: Apparition
Next Release: The Gray Horn