Wednesday, April 23, 2014
(November 1993, U.S.)
Men in drag is generally considered a very comedic formula in cinema. For me, it's definitely an acquired taste depending on who's doing the female dress-up. While men like Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) and Dustin Hoffman in TOOTSIE (1982) may have me in stitches, men like Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo in TO WONG FOO...(1995) left me absolutely cold (as a matter of fact, I couldn't even sit through the entire movie!). However, the great Robin Williams dressed as a woman? Seriously, what's not to love??
The laughs in a film like MRS. DOUBTFIRE are obvious enough from the get-go, but to truly consider Robin Williams in a role such as this, in which he plays a devoted father who goes to extreme lengths just to be with his kids during a messy divorce, is to not only appreciate the man as a comedian, but to also appreciate his tender emotions, particularly with children. We may not know what Robin Williams is like as a father in real like, but to witness his dedication to his children in this film can only serve to raise the bar of expectations of our own fathers. As a husband, on the other hand, Daniel Hillard (Williams) may be considered a true nightmare by the one who's married to him. He's constantly unemployed, never takes anything seriously and is quite irresponsible when it comes for caring for the structure and discipline of his household. His wife Miranda, however, is the exact opposite of the coin; structured, responsible, disciplined and believes in raising her their three children according to a set of rules and schedules (Holy shit - she's MY mother when I was a kid!!!). As a parent, whether you support her attitude or you think she needs to lighten-the-fuck-up, it's pretty clear that these two can't stay married to each other any longer. This, I suppose, is where not having a job costs you joint custody of your kids. And when you're addicted to your children as much as Daniel is, one Saturday a week won't be enough. What to do? Dress up as a middle-aged British woman called Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire! This transformation is a lot more than physical (just look at the movie poster!). As Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel is a completely different person; responsible, disciplined, structured and one who makes sure his kids are adhering to a schedule. Clearly, he's either learned a thing or two from his ex-wife or he's treading on very safe waters in order to keep his job with his family. Fear not, though. Behind all the new responsibilities is still the classic Robin Williams insanity and wise-ass dialogue we've all come to expect from this great, funny man! One can't help but feel empathy and support when Daniel/Mrs. Doubtfire goes out of his/her way to not only discredit Miranda's new/old love interest Stuart Dunmire (played by pre-Bond Pierce Brosnan), but to also make sure that Miranda doesn't end up in bed with him. It may be the wise-old granny giving Miranda the honorable, well-meaning advice of maintaining a level of post-divorce celibacy, but we know and love the jealous ex-husband who doesn't want to see his ex-wife fuck another guy!
To day that MRS. DOUBTFIRE is heavily predictable is an understatement, but frankly, we probably wouldn't have it any other way. For as much as we know that Daniel Hillard will get away with his costumed charade, we also know that the entire scheme will inevitably come crashing down faster than you can say "classic episode of I LOVE LUCY or THREE'S COMPANY"! And oh boy, how it comes crashing down! To watch Daniel/Mrs. Doubtfire constantly and desperately run back and forth in a classy restaurant changing outfits between his family and his boss while repeatedly downing the alcohol is simply hilarious and fun to watch. In the end, of course, anger is replaced with forgiveness and a father's love and dedication to his precious children are what triumphs most. I suppose the band 10CC sang it best in 1976..."The Things We Do For Love".
Favorite line or dialogue:
Stuart Dunmire: "Your day's on me, Mrs Doubtfire. Anything you need, just put on my tab, okay?"
Mrs. Doubtfire: "Oh, thank you, dear...(to himself)...Touch me again, and I'll drown you, you bastard. Oh, I'll just sit here and watch you move in on my family. Oh, God, what am I doing here? This is beyond obsession!"