Mrs. Doubtfire

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Mrs. Doubtfire
Mrs Doubtfire.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chris Columbus
Produced by Marsha Garces Williams
Robin Williams
Mark Radcliffe
Screenplay by Randi Mayem Singer
Leslie Dixon
Based on Alias Madame Doubtfire 
by Anne Fine
Starring Robin Williams
Sally Field
Lisa Jakub
Matthew Lawrence
Mara Wilson
Pierce Brosnan
Harvey Fierstein
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Edited by Raja Gosnell
Production
  company
Blue Wolf Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s)
  • November 24, 1993 (1993-11-24)
Running time 125 minutes
Country
  • United States
Language English
Budget $25,000,000[1]
Box office $441,286,195[1]

Mrs. Doubtfire is a 1993 American comedy film starring Robin Williams (who also served as co-producer) and Sally Field and based on the novel Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine. It was directed by Chris Columbus and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup.[2] The film was placed 67th in the American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Laughs: America's Funniest Movies, a list of the 100 funniest movies of the 20th century, and was also rated No. 40 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies of All Time. The original music score was composed by Howard Shore.

Plot[edit]

Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) is a talented, but recently unemployed, voice actor living in San Francisco. Daniel is devoted to his three children Lydia (Lisa Jakub), Chris (Matthew Lawrence), and Natalie (Mara Wilson), but he is not a good disciplinarian. His wife, Miranda (Sally Field), considers him irresponsible and immature, and their marriage is on the rocks. When Daniel throws Chris a chaotic birthday party despite his bad report card, Miranda finally snaps and asks for a divorce. At their first custody hearing, the judge provisionally grants Miranda custody of the children, since Daniel has neither a suitable residence nor a steady job.

Daniel learns that Miranda intends to hire a housekeeper to care for the children. Since she is not willing to let him watch the kids, Daniel surreptitiously alters her classifieds form and calls her a few times, using his voice acting skills to pose as several disturbing applicants. He then calls her posing as a pleasant and kind elderly British nanny, whom he dubs "Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire" after seeing a newspaper headline with the words "doubt fire". Impressed by her supposed credentials, Miranda invites "Mrs. Doubtfire" for an interview. Daniel enlists his gay brother Frank (Harvey Fierstein), a makeup artist, and Frank's partner Jack to transform him into Mrs. Doubtfire.

Neither Miranda nor the children recognize Daniel when he goes to the interview as Mrs. Doubtfire, and Miranda hires her. The children initially struggle to adjust to Mrs. Doubtfire's strict methods, but she soon makes herself an indispensable part of the family, and Miranda is able to heal her rocky relationship with her children. Daniel, who has had to learn several skills, also steadily rebuilds his life. He gets a menial job at a television station while learning to be a better parent and improving his apartment. However, he is riven with jealousy when he notices Miranda's new love interest Stuart Dunmire (Pierce Brosnan) spending more time with his family. Daniel also realizes he has created another barrier when he asks Miranda if he can look after the children. Miranda replies that she could never dismiss Mrs. Doubtfire, as she has made their lives so much better.

One day, Chris and Lydia inadvertently discover that Mrs. Doubtfire is really their father in disguise, leading him to explain his actions to them. Glad that he is back in their lives, Chris and Lydia agree not to tell Miranda or Natalie.

At the television station, CEO Jonathan Lundy (Robert Prosky) is amused when he sees Daniel clowning around with toy dinosaurs on the set of an outdated children's program. He invites him to dinner at Bridges Restaurant on the coming Friday evening to pitch new ideas. Meanwhile, Miranda expects Mrs. Doubtfire to attend a birthday dinner with Stuart and the children at the same time and place. Unable to turn down the invitation and unable to reschedule his meeting with Lundy, Daniel goes to the restaurant and has to rotate between both dinners by changing in and out of the Mrs. Doubtfire costume in the restroom. Because alcoholic beverages have been ordered at both tables, Daniel gets tipsy and his behavior becomes more erratic. He dumps pepper (which Stuart is allergic to) on Stuart's order and then forgets to change out of the Mrs. Doubtfire costume before returning to Lundy's table. Daniel covers for his mistake by explaining to a confused Lundy that his alter ego is his idea for a new television persona, which impresses his boss. To make matters worse, Stuart then starts choking on the pepper. Daniel, still in the Mrs. Doubtfire costume, administers the Heimlich maneuver to Stuart. During the struggle, Daniel's mask rips off, revealing his identity. Horrified and furious at finding out who her beloved housekeeper is, Miranda storms out of the restaurant with Stu and the children.

At their next custody hearing, Daniel pleads his case, but despite holding a job and a suitable home, and despite his personal explanation for the ruse, the judge considers his behavior "unorthodox" and grants Miranda full custody of the children, with Daniel limited to supervised visitation once a week. The ruling leaves Daniel heartbroken. Without Mrs. Doubtfire, the children are again withdrawn and depressed; even Miranda admits that their lives were so much better with her. They are then delighted to see Daniel dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire hosting his own television program, "Euphegenia's House", which has become a hit.

Miranda pays Daniel a visit at the studio, telling him that she and the kids were happier with him involved. She forgives him and successfully appeals the custody ruling, allowing them to share custody, and they make peace with each other. Later, she introduces the kids to their new "babysitter": Daniel, now undisguised and without supervision, who is allowed to see them anytime he wants. Daniel and the kids head out for the day while Miranda happily watches an episode of Euphegenia's House, where Mrs. Doubtfire answers a letter from a little girl whose parents are divorcing. Mrs. Doubtfire responds with the advice that no matter what the setup or circumstances, wherever there is love you'll have a "family in your heart."

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Filming[edit]

Chicago was the studio's first choice for filming. However, two new television shows (ER and Chicago Hope) had a lease with the city around the same time period, and the production team eventually went with San Francisco. Various locations in San Francisco were used for filming. Parts were shot at the studios of television station KTVU in Oakland. The street signs for the intersection near the "Painted Lady" home, Steiner and Broadway, were visible on-screen. The exact address, 2640 Steiner Street 37°47′38.07″N 122°26′10.78″W / 37.7939083°N 122.4363278°W / 37.7939083; -122.4363278, became a tourist attraction for some time after the film's release.[3] Though the film's home exteriors were impressive, its interiors were all shot in a warehouse in the Bay Area that was turned into a soundstage. Robin Williams' divorced father character Daniel lived upstairs from Danilo Bakery at 516 Green St., and his children attended a school at Filbert and Taylor.

The restaurant scene was filmed in an actual upscale restaurant, Bridges Restaurant & Bar, in downtown Danville, California, which is still in operation as of July 2014.

Music[edit]

The score was composed, orchestrated, and conducted by Howard Shore. The song Robin Williams sings at the cartoon voiceover in the beginning is "Largo al factotum". Other songs featured often were chosen referencing the identity of Mrs. Doubtfire. These songs include:

Additionally, these songs were featured:

Reaction[edit]

Box office[edit]

The film was a huge box office success. It earned $219,195,243 in the United States, along with $222,090,952 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $441,286,195.[1] It became the second highest grossing film of 1993, behind only Jurassic Park.[4][5]

Critical reception[edit]

The movie received mixed to positive reviews. At the time of its release, several critics compared Mrs. Doubtfire unfavorably with Some Like It Hot (1959), and others who viewed the movie favorably noted its similarity to Tootsie (1982).[6]

Mrs. Doubtfire has a "Fresh" rating of 71% with an average score of 5.8 out of 10 on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 49 reviews.[7][8] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 53/100, indicating "mixed or average" review, based on 16 critics.[9]

Accolades[edit]

BAFTA Awards

American Film Institute Lists

Sequel[edit]

Writing of a sequel, Mrs. Doubtfire 2, began in 2001 by Bonnie Hunt. Robin Williams was set to return in disguise as an old nanny, similar to the first movie. Due to problems with the script, re-writing began in early 2006 as Robin Williams was allegedly unhappy with the plot. The movie was expected to be released in late 2007, but following further script problems the sequel was declared "scrapped" in mid-2006.[11] The sequel's story involved Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire moving close to his daughter's college so he could keep an eye on her. In an interview for Newsday, Williams said the movie's sequel was indefinitely scrapped. Stating his reasons, he said, "The script they had just didn't work."[12]

In May 2013, Chris Columbus stated that "We're (Robin Williams) talking about a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. We've talked about it, and the studio is interested in it. The thing that fascinates me about a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire is with most actors who create an iconic character like Mrs. Doubtfire, when you come back and do that character, well, you're twenty years older so, you're not going to look the same. The cool thing with Mrs. Doubtfire is there's a character, there's a woman, who is actually going to look exactly as she did in 1993. So I look forward to seeing that trailer. I love that concept and there's no CGI. So we just need to make absolutely certain that the story is a good emotionally strong story, that there's a reason for telling it, it's not like Big Momma's House or something. It has to be as emotional and as funny."

As of April 17, 2014, a sequel was in development at Fox 2000. Columbus and Williams are both expected to return, and Elf screenwriter David Berenbaum is writing the script.[13]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Robin Williams performs a spoof reprisal of his role as Mrs. Doubtfire in the Disney animated film Aladdin and the King of Thieves when he tries to give a dejected Jasmine some moral support.[14][15]
  • Neil Patrick Harris performs the role of Mrs. Doubtfire as Mrs. Stinsfire in the TV sitcom How I Met Your Mother, as a trick to pick up girls.
  • Tobias Funke (David Cross) dresses up as an elderly nanny, Mrs. Featherbottom, in the TV show Arrested Development to get closer to his daughter, something described by the narrator as "the exact plot of Mrs. Doubtfire."
  • In the episode "A Song For Margo" from The Critic, Franklin disguises himself as "Mrs. Dopefranklin" to be the new nanny for the family. When Eleanor claims that he can see the kids anytime, Franklin dismisses it, claiming "Well who wants to do that"? The movie was also parodied in "Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice", where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays "Mrs. Doubtfire" in the episode.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Awards for Mrs. Doubtfire. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  3. ^ Shot on This Site, William A. Gordon, Citadel, 1995, p.39.
  4. ^ Fox, David J. (1994-02-01). "Mrs. Doubtfire' Still the Champ". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  5. ^ Fox, David J. (1994-01-04). "Mrs. Doubtfire Takes the Holiday". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  6. ^ "Papa's Got A Brand New Drag". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  7. ^ "Review at Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  8. ^ "Go behind the scenes with 'Mrs. Doubtfire'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  9. ^ "Mrs. Doubtfire—Metacritic". Retrieved 5 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  11. ^ "Williams Rejects Mrs. Doubtfire Sequel". WorstPreviews.com. 2006-12-07. Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  12. ^ Brunton, Richard (2006-12-05). "Williams says no Mrs Doubtfire 2". Filmstalker. Retrieved 2007-06-02. 
  13. ^ Kit, Borys (April 16, 2014). "'Mrs. Doubtfire' Sequel in the Works at Fox 2000 (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  14. ^ The Robin Williams Fansite: Aladdin and the King of Thieves - "Fun Facts". Retrieved 12-01-2013.
  15. ^ Anthony's Film Review: Aladdin and the King of Thieves. Retrieved 12-01-2013.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
The Player
Golden Globe: Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
1993
Succeeded by
The Lion King