The very definition of a classic family flick, Mrs Doubtfire is one of those rare movies you watch and enjoy loads as a kid but then re-appreciate as an adult.
And, following the heartbreaking loss of comic genius Robin Williams, this is the perfect movie to watch as a tribute to the late actor as, chances are, you first saw this one when quite young so you'll get to revisit why you and everyone fell in love with the guy and this film all these years ago.
Mrs Doubtfire's premise is, at heart, a rather sad one: a father is told he can only see his kids once a week after his wife demands a divorce (on her kid's birthday, no less) and, out of desperation, passes himself off as an aged female British nanny just so he can spend time with the kids he loves.
As you do.
Ok, so it's not exactly plausible but it's a comedy so you kinda have to buy it even if it's highly unlikely that a family would get fooled this easily in real life. Williams plays a Mel Blanc-style voice actor who loses his job early on due to a moral conflict but it's when he organises an over-the-top birthday party for his son that his wife (Sally Field) draws the line and demands a divorce. The fact that she does all this on her kid's birthday, by the way, makes it near impossible to like her during the entirety of the movie.
We all know what happens next.
Williams comes up with a fake name on the fly and, with the help of his (conveniently) make-up artist brother, soon becomes Mrs Doubtfire: a hip old granny who can hip-hop, bebop, dance til ya drop and yo yo, make a wicked cup of cocoa.
In her own words.
Countless shenanigans follow including a mask mishap which ends up with Williams dumping his face in a big cake to hide the fact Mrs Doubtfire's face is gone, a last minute take-away order with impressive results, some slick housework dancing and a catastrophic trip to the restaurant. Pierce Brosnan is also in this movie, playing Field's new love interest Stu and looking like, well, 007. His character is ambiguous in that we don't know much about him and his intentions but the film skilfully avoids painting him as a straight-up villainous douchebag, which would have been much too heavy-handed. An adorable Mara Wilson famously plays the youngest of Williams' kids and gets to even kind of swear at one point.
The film is certainly wacky but it still very much holds up.
I was worried that going back to it would prove it to be soppier than I recalled but, although it has its sad and sentimental moments, it does manage to mostly be a lot of family-friendly fun and keep a fair balance throughout. Robin Williams' performance, of course, holds the whole thing together beautifully and some of the film's best and funniest moments come when he looks like Mrs Doubtfire but acts completely out of character.
I do recommend the film and encourage you to revisit it. It's as silly and absurd as its plot promises but its theme is bittersweet enough that it works on an emotional level as well.
A harmless, funny comedy people of all ages should enjoy.
To read Mara Wilson's farewell to Robin Williams click HERE.
To read Lisa Jakub's click HERE.