Mrs. Doubtfire Reviews
It's a high concept film that really works. It was great in the 90s, and it still holds up quite well over 20 years later.
Chris Columbus is a rather hit and miss director at times, but this is easily one of his best. It's funny, memorable, highly quotable, and really does a good job at dealing with tough topics. Divorce is hard on kids and their parents, and the film shows this, but does so in a way where the comedy and drama are mixed pretty evenly.
Robin Williams puts his talents to very effective use, and it seems to me as if this role was tailor made for him. He gets to run wild with his shtick, yes, but he also shows his true acting chops when needed as well, and, though he is immature, he changes, and it is earned. Sally Field, good actress though she is, is rather one note here as the nagging wife. She gives the role a bit more weight due to her skill, but sadly it's still not the most developed or fleshed out role. The three kids (including Mara Wilson in her film debut) are fine enough, though the older daughter can be a really unlikable bitch at times. Also, it cracks me up how the boy kinda looks like Dave Grohl to an extent.
Other people who show up are Pierce Brosnan as a well-to-do snob trying to take over Williams's role as family man, Robert Prosky as Williams's boss at his court-appointed job, and Harvey Fierstein as the makeup artist brother.
The film does run long, and, as I said, some of the characters are not all that likeable or developed, but overall, this is a well meaning, enjoyable, and pretty memorable blast.
Daniel is devastated-, although he is just as devastated when he is told by the court that he can only have the kids once a week, which prompts him to turn to his gay brother and boyfriend for support. With latex, a cheap wig, a dress and a pair of stockings, he later becomes Mrs Doubtfire- a Scottish nanny, of whom Miranda hires to look after the children, whilst she goes off to work. Miranda gets a new boyfriend named Stuart, played by Pierce Brosnan and here he comes across as a somewhat slimy, two-faced piece of work. But he only gets a few lines and as Stuart, character-wise he was so pedestrian and almost one-dimensional.
Mrs Doubtfire is a comical farce- but whilst Robin Williams efforts as Mrs Doubtfire are at times funny, I thought the circumstances that led to the couple's break up was, for a comedy, just ridiculous. Plus, the conclusion was rather out of sync and so far removed from reality. I understand that with divorce cases especially when kids are involved, there is hardly a happy ending. And whilst the last scenes did imply that there was some hope for Miranda and Daniel, the truth is they are no longer together as a couple and are no longer in love with one another. The ending was neither here or there-although it was realistic enough to be believed. In fact, the ending was much more believable than the other aspects of the film itself.
The cast were at best okay: I've seen Robin Williams act better and do better than in this movie, I thought Sally as Miranda was too stuck-up and as I said earlier, she was mis-casted as that character.
And by the way, Mrs Doubtfire was indeed Scottish, not English as the writers of the film have pointed out.
Having said that, the gag's and jokes, whilst they were enjoyable for a few times, eventually became tedious and tiresome. The sentimentality of it became nauseating and the cutesy factor was short-lived. The younger ones will love it more, i'm sure but for a so-called family film dealing with the complicated issue of divorce, Mrs Doubtfire was at most sappy and saccharine sweet.
Mrs Doubtfire is not Tootsie- it is nowhere as good as Tootsie; yes this film can be funny on occasions but in all, it just doesn't cut it. It is just a tad too long, too predictable and with some scenes, you often have to wait for some time for something really interesting to happen within the film.
In all though, this is a rather bog-standard affair, with nothing remotely new to offer to the audience. It is a film about a guy who dresses up as a woman, in order for him to see his children. With Tootsie, it's about a guy- who like Daniel is an actor- who dresses up as a woman in order for him to secure a part in a daytime soap opera. That movie is far more substantial and interesting; some would say it is also funnier than Mrs Doubtfire, which is in truth more of a melodrama, rather than a comedy-based film.
Mrs Doubtfire is at best very average, but it is way overrated and compared to Some Like It Hot and Tootsie, it trails behind by a couple of metres. It is a rehash of the cross-dressing elements of those films juxtaposed onto a family friendly context, but it is done in a not so successful and efficient way.
This is really a poor man's Tootsie, and whilst it can be funny at times, it does come across as being banal and predictable for a movie that Mrs Doubtfire is.