Movie: Mrs. Doubtfire
Release Date: November 24, 1993
Director: Chris Columbus
Starring: Robin Williams, Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein, Robert Prosky.
Tag Lines: “She will rock your world.”
“She makes dinner. She does windows. She reads bedtime stories. She’s a blessing… in disguise.”
Relevance: I was a Robin Williams fan most of my life. In 1978, after seeing him as Mork from Ork on an episode of “Happy Days,” which my family watched religiously, I fell in love. At seven years old, I found that character silly, crazy, over-the-top and hysterical, everything a seven year old wanted an alien to be. That same year Mork showed up on his own show, “Mork & Mindy,” another show that my family watched all of the time. Through the years, I watched Mr. Williams on many talk shows and realized that he was just as silly, crazy, over-the-top and hysterical as his counterpart on television, everything I wanted a human being to be.
In November of 1993, Robin Williams was already a huge celebrity and had been in several blockbusters as well as performed in three Academy Award nominated roles. He was a household name, admired and was a huge draw at the box office. ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ only added to his success. Over that holiday season, the movie debuted as the number one film in America and remained in the top ten through the end of that following January. It eventually became the second highest grossing film of 1993 only behind ‘Jurassic Park’ (see 52. Jurassic Park). Oddly enough, its reviews were mixed with most of the criticism coming from critics comparing it to ‘Some Like It Hot’ (see 216. Some Like It Hot). I didn’t care one bit about the reviews, I was going to see it in theaters regardless. And that’s exactly what I did.
I went to see ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ over the Thanksgiving holiday with my then girlfriend/soon to be wife/later to be ex-wife. She was a fan of Robin Williams as well, so there was no real convincing her to go see it. It was a very popular film and we were part of an almost sold out crowd. For me, that only made the experience that much more enjoyable. There is nothing like being in a packed theater reacting to what is happening on the screen. That feeling is palpable. There was so much energy that night and it was all do the the outrageous laughter that the movie provoked. Simply put, it was a very funny movie. It was a well paced comedy and Robin Williams was at the top of his game, as well the rest of the ensemble cast. What struck me about this film though that made it great instead of just good, was the heart of the movie. It was more than just a “let’s get Robin to act crazy for two hours” kind of movie. There was a certain softness and healing message about marriage and divorce and how to handle that difficult topic in regards to children. The movie more than impressed me and it was one that I talked about for months.
As per my usual behavior after seeing a movie that I love, I told everyone I knew to see it. And that was exactly what I did with ‘Mrs. Doubtfire.’ Again, there was really no convincing people to watch it. Robin Williams was loved and he made people laugh, and people love to laugh. My mom became a huge fan of the film after seeing it. She was also a huge fan of Sally Field (although she always called her Sally Fields) so that made the film a little bit extra special for her. She eventually bought the VHS tape to add to her ever growing movie collection. It was one that she watched quite a bit. If I was around, I definitely joined in on the viewing, as did most people. It was an infectious kind of film.
Like my mom, I bought the VHS tape of ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ and would watch it every once in awhile. It was also a movie that I would stop and watch when it showed up on any random television channel. It was just a great movie and it always made me laugh and put me in a great mood. The film has remained a part of my zeitgeist ever since. It has been quoted and referenced by me at least once a week if not more. But it wasn’t only me. Friends, family and co-workers all seemed to love the film and would release one of its quotes now and again. I once had a post-it note left on my car by a co-worker that read, “It was a run-by fruiting.” Even my son, who usually disagrees with me on movies (well, on everything really) loves this film. He belly laughs every time we watch it. What can I say, the power of Robin Williams united everyone.
Today’s Thoughts: “Did you ever wish you could sometimes freeze frame a moment in your day, look at it and say “this is not my life”?”
Every once in awhile I get a certain melancholy that sweeps over me when I realize that Robin Williams is no longer on this planet. He had entertained me since I was seven years old and I simply miss his energy, his light and his performances every single day. I am grateful that he was at least immortalized on television and on film so that I can revisit him now and again. Mr. Williams has been a part of this movie challenge a few times this year. ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ is his last, and in my opinion, greatest entry.
‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ is a movie that still makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it, and that was no exception today. I laughed. A lot. There are so many now iconic moments that are so fantastic, it is hard to pick a favorite. However Robin Williams’ numerous phone calls to Sally Field (“I don’t work with the males cause I used to be one.”) as well as his many attempts to transform into a woman (“Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match.”) are pretty darn perfect. Robin Williams is not the only one with the scene stealing moments. Sally Field’s reaction to finding out Mrs. Doubtfire’s real identity is absolutely priceless.
‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ is a tremendous comedy that really should be considered a classic movie by now. It has many great performances, it’s beautifully directed and makes the tragedy of divorce and separation through the eyes of children bearable. To me, that is an exceptional movie and that is exactly what ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ is, exceptional. Thank you for the laughs, Mr. Williams. Thank you for everything.
Awards: Academy Award for Best Makeup, Greg Cannom, Ve Neil, Yolanda Toussieng (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Robin Williams (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Make Up/Hair, Greg Cannom, Ve Neil, Yolanda Toussieng (nomination).
Ways to Watch: Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu, DVD Availability.