Mrs. Doubtfire (1993): After a bitter divorce, an actor disguises himself as a female housekeeper to spend time with his children held in custody by his former wife.
Where to begin? It's so hard to review a piece such as this that has become such a pivotal point of American culture, but we'll give it a try. The premise of this movie is ridiculous: a man disguises himself as a housekeeper to spend time with his children due to a terrible divorce. As he maintains this persona his normal self also holds down a job with its own storyline. As the two storylines converge, the premise and scenes become more and more ridiculous and yet......I bought it. I bought every second of it. On paper this movie should be only as good as Martin Lawrence's Big Momma's House, or Adam Sandler's Jack and Jill. Which are terrible, by the way. There is exactly one reason why this movie works and is as great as it is. And his name is Robin Williams.
So yes, first and foremost let's talk about acting. There is a strong supporting cast here. Led by the incredibly talented Sally Fields as William's divorced wife, the supporting cast does nothing but add to the believability of this movie. From Pierce Brosnan to Robert Prosky, to even a surprisingly talented child actor in Lisa Jakub, I was very impressed with the legitimacy of the acting in this movie, despite its comedic label. However, the true star here is the late great Robin Williams. In what is arguably his greatest achievement as an actor, Williams perfectly embodies two different characters in the same movie with Daniel Hillard and Mrs. Doubtfire. He even goes as far as to portray the two different personas in the same shot. The ability to portray two different characters simultaneously is one of the hardest things to do in the acting business, and Williams makes it look easy here. By himself he converted me not just to his character, but to the overall movie as well. His role alone is worth watching this movie again and again, and really makes you realize just how great of an actor Robin Williams was. He will be forever missed.
Now this isn't all about Robin Williams, and this movie is not without its blatant flaws. First and foremost, the movie takes an incredibly dated and now borderline offensive view to the idea of cross-dressing and transgenders. I can't really go into it without spoiling anything, however the approach of this movie was a less-than-admirable one. There is an awesome gay couple throughout the movie, though. Additionally, there are some obvious corners cut in the story, like a man who couldn't even cook spaghetti turning into a perfect upper-class housekeeper in seemingly two or three days. I mean you wanna talk about an extreme makeover....but the biggest fault is that, despite this movie being labeled as a comedy, there was a huge amount of time in which I was treating this movie like a drama. Which, in turn, led to me noticing the various plot holes of the movie. There just were not as many laughs as there should have been. But I will say that in the world of complaints, the complaint of there not being as many laughs as there should be is a far more positive complaint than saying that there was simply not enough laughs. Yes, there is a huge difference in the wording there. Point is, this movie is great. However, replace Robin Williams with Adam Sandler and leave everything else exactly how it is, and this movie is.....well......not so great. Actually.....it might be pretty bad. But, there are plenty of examples of movies that are great due to an actor's performance, and this is and always will be one of them. RIP Mr. Robin Williams.
The Critique: Robin Williams at his finest, Mrs. Doubtfire is a wonderfully flawed and enjoyable 125 minutes of film.
The Recommendation: The perfect movie to remember the greatness of Robin Williams by, if you haven't seen this already I would recommend it as a must-see.
Rewatchability: Moderately High
The Verdict: 8/10 Great
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