Mrs. Doubtfire

Directed By: Chris Columbus

Starring: Robin Williams, Sally Field, Lisa Jakub, Matthew Lawrence, Mara Wilson, Pierce Brosnan, and Harvey Fierstein

"They should have a little disclaimer that says ‘Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery While Watching This Show’.  Incredible.  This guy used to put me to sleep when I was a kid.  Amazing.  He has the warmth of a snow pea.  He makes Mister Rogers look like Mick Jagger."
-Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams)

At this point in cinema, I'd argue that we've passed the fad of male comedians sporting fat suits to produce box office gold.  It's the sort of stuff that now lives up to the quote above.  It's safe to say that Martin Lawrence has retired Big Momma, at least we all can hope.  I'm certain we won't see Eddie Murphy as Professor Klump ever again.  However, I was never more surprised at Hollywood’s sequel machine than when I heard that there was going to be a Mrs. Doubtfire 2.  Unlike Lawrence and Murphy, Robin Williams never gave into temptation to bring everyone's favorite rockin', sockin' granny back to the big screen.  Some two decades later, there's no reason to expect him to do so either.  Clearly, we were all wrong.  While I doubt the sequel will capture the movie magic of its predecessor, we'll always have the original.

Daniel Hillard (Williams) is a broke, jobless voice actor, but he loves his wife Miranda (Sally Field) and their three children Lydia (Lisa Jakub), Chris (Matthew Lawrence), and Natalie (Mara Wilson).  When Daniel throws a raucous birthday party for Chris that involves wild animals, loud music, and dancing on top of furniture, he finds out just how much Miranda loves him.  She throws him out of the house and files for divorce.  During the legal proceedings, the judge grants Miranda full custody of their children.  After all, Daniel is still unemployed, and his tiny little apartment in San Francisco is hardly suitable for three youngsters.  Daniel, however, can't settle for this.

Settling into his new life, Daniel has visitation rights with the kids on weekends.  Through these infrequent interactions, he learns that Miranda is looking to hire a nanny.  Sabotaging her recruitment efforts, Daniel turns to his gay brother Frank (Harvey Fierstein) who just happens to be a professional make-up artist.  Frank and his partner help Daniel to transform into a tough old granny named Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, the perfect nanny for Miranda and Daniel's kids.  Passing as unrecognizable to his ex-wife and children, Daniel is hired as the nanny.  While he gets to see his kids five days a week in make-up and a granny suit, he tries to put his real life back together again so that he can actually get custody of them.  To do that, he must convince the court liaison Mrs. Sellner (Anne Haney) that he's made significant strides in creating a healthy environment in which his children can live.  He also have to get over his issues with Miranda's rich new boyfriend Stuart (Pierce Brosnan).

Mrs. Doubtfire is undoubtedly one of my favorite childhood movies.  With Robin Williams and his talented supporting cast at the top of their game comically, a premise that was far more novel at the time (though one can make thematic comparisons to older films like Some Like It Hot), and fun, clever direction from Chris Columbus, this wholesome film hits the spot.  It's a zestful movie full of colorful characters in great comedic situations.  It's also a film with quite a bit of heart.  Chris Columbus deftly crafts hilarious popcorn fare and a good-natured family film that doesn't miss a beat.

Robin Williams is the heart and soul of this film.  He's a caring father and an even funnier voice actor.  With a heartfelt performance that connects, Williams offers one of the great movie dads of the 90's.  Though a broke bum the majority of the film who doesn't provide for his family financially, Williams epitomizes what it means to be a loving, involved father who has a strong relationship with his kids.  More importantly, Williams is at the height of his comedic powers as the rockin' old granny.  As Daniel, he’s silly, zany, and over the top.  As Mrs. Doubtfire, however, he offers a lot more witty humor.  In a fat suit, Williams impressively highlights his versatility as a comedian.

The supporting cast is firing on all cylinders as well.  As Daniel's wife Miranda, Sally Field has the task of playing the straight arrow of the movie.  In this role, she offers a smooth, no-nonsense taskmaster and a fitting antithesis to Williams's crazy character.  For his part as Stu Dunmire, Pierce Brosnan channels his inner 007 and offers a charming, charismatic pretty boy who unknowingly ruffles Daniel's feathers throughout the film.  Lastly, we have Anne Haney as the court liaison Mrs. Sellner.  In one of her few but memorable performances, this character actress delivers plenty of witty humor that does not go unnoticed in her limited time on screen.

The production value of Mrs. Doubtfire is second to none.  The make-up and costume artists do an incredible job bringing Robin Williams feminine side to light.  Williams indeed looks like a real granny when he's suited up.  Additionally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the quality soundtrack Howard Shore puts together in the movie.  With iconic tunes from the likes of James Brown ("Papa's Got a Brand New Bag"), Frank Sinatra ("Luck Be a Lady"), and Aerosmith ("Dude (Looks Like a Lady)") emanating from the film, Shore adds selections that definitely resonate in a film like Mrs. Doubtfire.

Mrs. Doubtfire gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.