MRS. DOUBTFIRE (1993) ***1/2
Starring: Robin Williams, Sally Field, Mara Wilson, and Pierce Brosnan
Directed by Chris Columbus. Written by Leslie Dixon and Randi Mayem Singer. Running time: 125 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for sexual references and some language)
By Blake French:
"Mrs. Doubtfire" is one of the most invigorating, vivid character studies to be produced on the big screen this decade. Most of the characters are strongly executed with decisive dialogue. They are also beautifully written with tainted personalities and uncompromising wit. Chris Columbus has assembled a stellar dramatic comedy with excellent screen writing, giving audiences one of the most punctually artful films I have ever witnessed.
The opening scene is as brilliantly structured as screen writing otherwise comes. It has a middle-aged man named Daniel, whom we learn about as he quits his job as a vocal performer for a children's cartoon after he realizes his employers are immoral. This sequence provides us with a development of the character's inner personality, strong morals and consciences. The audience also leans that he is a silly, easy going person. We soon find out it is these characteristics that propel the movie into the first plot point.
Daniel's wife, Miranda, wishes to divorce him because he is too goofy and immature. We are propelled quickly into the firm second act after the divorce. Before this point, we have witnessed both actions and dialogue reallocating Daniel's love and compassion for his family, especially his children. The film sets up the for following events using Robin Williams character as the plot advancer.
Daniel lusts for time with his children so much, he confidentially disguises himself as a sixty year old woman then applies for a day-care job for his ex-wife--this would allow him to be around his children more often. Miranda falls for it, and the master of disguise gets his opportunity. The film then takes us through a hilarious and emotional journey into the lives of a typical American divorced family.
The internal problem becomes more complex when Daniel's ex wife shows romantic interest in a new boyfriend, underplayed by Pierce Brosnan. The filmmakers could have done more with the Brosnan character. Here, he seems developed with repetition and dialogue. Although his purpose is to accommodate romantic competition, we don't know enough about him to care that much.
"Mrs. Doubtfire" contains some material that fairs as overly blunt and outwardly apprehensive. Although the overall presentation is understandable and relative, I still think the picture could have been better with more careful script writing. Even such, we are able to witness a powerful, touching film with a conclusion that is so settling, you will cry with joy.
Brought to you by 20th Century Fox.
Comedy / Drama
Comedy / Drama
Daniel Hillard is an eccentric actor who specializes in dubbing voices for cartoon characters. Daniel is a kind man and a loving father to his three kids Lydia, Chris, and Natalie, but Daniel's wife Miranda sees him as a poor disciplinarian, and a bad role model. After Daniel throws an elaborate and disastrous birthday party for Chris, Miranda reaches the end of her limited patience, and files for a divorce. Daniel is heartbroken when Miranda is given custody of the kids and he's only allowed to visit them once a week. Determined to stay in contact with his kids, Daniel discovers that Miranda is looking for a housekeeper, and with help from his brother Frank, a makeup artist, Daniel gets the job, disguised as Mrs. Iphegenia Doubtfire, a Scottish nanny. Daniel pulls off the ruse so well that neither Miranda nor his children recognize him, and in the process, he learns some parenting tips. Daniel also has to deal with Miranda's new boyfriend, a jerk named Stu Dunmeyer.
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