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MRS. DOUBTFIRE (1993) - PG13
When Daniels Hillard finally finds himself unemployed and struggling to keep his personal life in order, his wife asks for a divorce. At the hearing, Daniel is heartbroken when he discovers the judge denies him custody of the kids. In an attempt to stay close to his kids, however, Daniels pulls off one of the most memorable gags in twentietch century comedy, dressing up as the beloved nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire. As Daniel tends for his children under the guise of an old lady, both the children, and Daniel's ex-wife, grow to love the gregarious housekeeper, leading to inevitable complications as Daniel struggles to keep his act undisclosed.
Director Chris Columbus' "Mrs. Doubtfire" is a fun, family-friendly comedy classic.
"She makes dinner. She does windows. She reads bedtime stories. She's a blessing... in disguise"
The basic story shows married actor, Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) who is employed doing a cartoon characters' voices for a living, being fired from his job. This upsets his wife, Miranda (Sally Field), because Daniel has a history of not being able to stay at a job for long. What really is the last straw for her is when Daniel throws a birthday party for his eldest son, Chris (Matthew Lawrence) despite the fact that the boy isn't doing well in school, and his mother had said no to this party. When his marriage ends, he loses custody of his children, and is allowed to see his kids, whom he dearly loves, only once a week. He was denied joint custody because of his habit of being a bit irresponsible, and not having a steady job. When Miranda makes plans to hire a housekeeper to take care of the kids during the week, his solution is to impersonate a matronly British, female housekeeper, in order to see his kids on a daily basis.
Things become a bit difficult for Daniel when his wife starts dating an old boyfriend, 'Stu' Dunmeyer (Pierce ). But, disastrous results happen when Daniel tries to, at the same restaurant, do his nanny job, and meet with a TV producer who is considering giving Daniel his own show, which would be the steady job he needs to get joint custody.
This poignant, funny, yet serious screenplay, based on Ane Fine's novel, Alias Madame Doubtfire, explores the changes and difficulties that divorce incurs on members of a family, and how we can hurt each other by acting without thinking. A secondary plot, shows how Daniel had to change his attitudes, old habits and focus, in order to pull this scam off, and be able to be with the people he loves more than anything; his children.
The casting, screenplay, direction and pacing really come together to offer a fine blend of a comedy/drama, heartwarming movie.
Robin Williams is quite engaging as man impersonating an old British woman. He flawlessly pulls off without a hitch the hilariously funny situations that Daniel finds himself, as he tries to juggle his now complicated life. A really funny scene has Mrs. Doubtfire trying to cook dinner for the first time for the kids, when her rubber body form gets too close to the flames and catches fire. "My first day as a woman and I am already having hot flashes."
Robin Williams skillfully shows his character growing into someone his children can be proud of. His ability for drama also surfaces in this script.
Sally Field delivers a strong performance as Williams wife. After the restaurant fiasco, she goes back to court to get monitored visitation. Then, Her character finally grows in her understanding that just because she can't stand Daniel, her children and their father, Daniel, need to see each other. She also sees at the end, how Daniel has matured, and is able to come up with an amiable visitation arrangement with him. Her scenes interacting with Williams/Doubtfire are sometimes cute, poignant, dramatic and always well written.
Harvey Fierstein enlivens the proceeding as Daniel's gay brother, Frank, who helps him get together his Mrs. Doubtfire getup. In real life, the Doubtfire makeup earned an Academy Award. That whole montage with Frank and his partners working with Daniel on his get up is really hilarious, and well written. Williams does some of his impersonations of famous women, adding to the hilarity of the humorous script.
The children, Mathew Lawrence (Chris), Lisa Jakub (Lydia), and Mara Wilson (Mattie), all give fine performances and add much to the film, portraying the range of feelings felt by children whose parents have had an unfriendly divorce.
Pierce Bronson gives his usual, solid performance, as the new boyfriend, 'Stu' Dunmeyer, who is making moves on Daniel's ex-wife and the children.
Williams' transformation into a woman is very convincing. A top team of special effects wizards are responsible, including Greg Cannom and Ve Neill, both Best Make-Up Oscar winners.