Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Movie #446: Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire is a comedy starring Robin Williams, Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein, Mara Wilson, Matthew Lawrence, and Lisa Jakub.

Daniel Hillard (Williams) is a voice actor who can't seem to hold down a job. His wife Miranda (Field) is therefore stressed and somewhat wound tight, as she winds up being financial support for the family as well as the only real source of discipline and stability. Things finally come to a head, Miranda divorces him, and a judge quite rightly grants him visitation rather than shared custody since he's not exactly in a stable place.

Rather than putting his life back together, Daniel, with the help of his makeup artist brother (Fierstein) creates the persona of Mrs. Doubtfire, a vaguely Scottish old lady, and gets hired as Miranda's housekeeper and babysitter so he can be with his kids. This works pretty well on one level, as since Daniel has to learn to keep a house and sit a kid, he learns the skills he needs to be a better parent, but it's fucking horrifying on another level, since he's gaslighting and deceiving his family pretty terribly (but, y'know, they play "Dude Looks Like a Lady" while he vacuums, so it's cool).

It all falls apart when he tries the rookie sitcom movie of switching back and forth during the same dinner date (with his family on one end and his boss (Robert Prosky) on the other), gets revealed, and promptly loses visitation because holy shit what. And then we get Miranda-ex-machina to fix everything once she realizes that "Mrs. Doubtfire" really made their lives better.

So, the movie moves pretty fast and it's entertaining. It's not one of my favorites, but it's not as maudlin as Jack or as awful as Flubber. My issues with the movie kinda stem from the fact that Daniel doesn't really learn all that much - he does become a better parent, but he does it without learning any real appreciation for Miranda, and what's worse, Miranda has this sneaky little "huh, guess I should lighten up" arc, which isn't really justified, IMO. The other thing that bugs me is that Daniel gets so jealous of Miranda dating her friend Stu (Brosnan), but he never has a kind thing to say about her otherwise. If his focus had been purely on his kids, and he'd acknowledged that his marriage was really over, or if it went the other way and he was at all focused on getting Miranda back (which would have ended badly but might have led to more genuine conflict), that might have been fine. As it is, it's just Williams throwing things at James Bond, and that seems unwise.

My Grade: C-
Rewatch Value: Low

Next up: Much Ado About Nothing