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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 Madame Doubtfire
by Anne Fine
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Edited by Raja Gosnell
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • November 24, 1993 (1993-11-24) (United States)
Running time
125 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]
Box office $441.3 million[1]

Mrs. Doubtfire is a 1993 American comedy-drama film directed by Chris Columbus and written by Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon, based on Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine. It stars Robin Williams (who also served as co-producer), Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein and Robert Prosky. It follows a recently divorced actor who dresses up as a female housekeeper to be able to interact with his children.

The film was released in the United States on November 24, 1993.[2] It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup[3] and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. For his performance in the film, Robin Williams was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Actor.

Although the film received mixed reviews during its original theatrical run, more recent reviews have been much more positive: the film was placed 67th in the American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Laughs: America's Funniest Movies and was also rated No. 40 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies of All Time. The original music score was composed by Howard Shore. The film was released in the United Kingdom on January 28, 1994, and topped the country's box office that weekend.[4]


Daniel Hillard is a freelance voice actor in San Francisco. Though a devoted father to his children, Lydia, Chris, and Natalie, his wife Miranda considers him unreliable. One day, Daniel quits his job and returns home to throw a lavish birthday party for Chris (a party that Miranda had previously forbade, due to Chris' poor grades), resulting in a complaint from a neighbor. When Miranda returns home from work to find a loud and messy party, she is angry at Daniel for having planned and thrown the party behind her back. After a big argument, Miranda files for divorce, and the judge gives sole custody of the children to her; however, he tells Daniel that if he can find a steady job and a suitable residence within three months, he will agree to order joint custody.

Daniel works to rebuild his life, getting a menial job at a local television station, and learns that Miranda is seeking a housekeeper to watch over the children. He secretly alters her classified ad text in order to keep other interested people away, and then uses his voice-acting skills to call Miranda about the job as a host of undesirable applicants. He then calls Miranda as Scottish-accented[5] nanny, whom he calls Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, with strong credentials. Miranda is impressed and invites her for an interview. Daniel gets help from his brother Frank, a makeup artist, and his partner Jack to create a Mrs. Doubtfire persona, including a prosthetic mask that makes him appear to be an older woman.

Miranda hires Mrs. Doubtfire after an impressive interview. The children initially struggle with Mrs. Doubtfire's rigid ways but soon come around and thrive, while Miranda learns to become closer with her children. Daniel, as Mrs. Doubtfire, learns several household skills as part of the role, improving his parenting skills. One day, Lydia and Chris discover Daniel's ploy; thrilled to have their father back, they agree to keep his secret from Miranda and Natalie.

While working at the station, Daniel is seen by the station's CEO, Jonathan Lundy, playing with toy dinosaurs on the set of a canceled children's show. Impressed by his voice acting and imagination, Lundy asks Daniel to join him for a dinner at Bridge's Restaurant to discuss having him host his own children's show. Daniel discovers that this appointment is on the same night and time, and at the same restaurant, as a planned birthday dinner for Miranda hosted by her new boyfriend, Stu Dunmire, to which Mrs. Doubtfire has also been invited. Unable to change either appointment, Daniel decides to try to rotate in and out of the Mrs. Doubtfire outfit and attend both events.

As the dinners progress, Daniel becomes more drunk and starts making mistakes while changing in and out of costume. Stu starts choking on his dinner (after Daniel adds cayenne pepper to Stu's meal before it is served), and Daniel, in the Mrs. Doubtfire outfit, gives him the Heimlich maneuver. The action saves Stu but causes Daniel's prosthetic mask to rip, and revealing his identity to Miranda's horror.

At their next custody hearing, Daniel explains how he has a suitable job and home, and then explains his actions. The judge is touched by Daniel's explanation, but is also disturbed by Daniel's methods of living, and grants Miranda full custody, with Daniel limited to supervised visitation once a week, much to his and Miranda's dismay, because Miranda knew he never meant any harm. Without Mrs. Doubtfire, Miranda and her children become depressed, recognizing how much Mrs. Doubtfire improved their lives. They are surprised when the local station starts a new children's show, Euphegenia's House, which Daniel, in the Mrs. Doubtfire persona, hosts. The show becomes a hit and is syndicated across the country.

Miranda visits Daniel after a taping and admits they were happier when he was involved, and she agrees to contest the custody rights. Soon after, Miranda is able to hire Daniel as the children's new babysitter, allowing him to see the children every day after school—essentially what he was able to do as Mrs. Doubtfire. As Daniel takes the children out, Miranda watches a Euphegenia's House episode in which Mrs. Doubtfire answers a letter from a young girl whose parents have separated, saying that no matter what arrangements families have, love will prevail.




The San Francisco house used for exterior shots of the film, photographed several days after Robin Williams' death. A fan-made tribute to Williams can be seen at its front steps.

Chicago was the studio's first choice for filming. However, as two new television series (ER and Chicago Hope) had a lease with the city during the subsequent time period, production was relocated to San Francisco. Various locations in the city were used during filming. Parts were filmed at the studios of television station KTVU in Oakland. Street signs for the intersection near the "Painted Lady" home, Steiner, and Broadway, were visible onscreen.

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.[6] Following Williams's death on August 11, 2014, the house became an impromptu memorial.[7] All interior filming for the home took place in a Bay Area warehouse converted for sound stage usage. Williams' character Daniel Hillard lived upstairs from Danilo Bakery at 516 Green Street; his children attended a school at Filbert and Taylor.

The makeup for Mrs. Doubtfire's appearance took four hours to apply.[8] Williams later recounted how he used to walk through San Francisco dressed in full Mrs. Doubtfire makeup and costume, and on one occasion, visiting a sex shop to buy a large dildo and other toys.[9]

The restaurant scene was filmed at Bridges Restaurant & Bar, in Danville, California.


Mrs. Doubtfire
Mrs. Doubtfire Soundtrack album cover.jpg
Soundtrack album by Howard Shore
Released December 7, 1993
Genre Soundtrack
Length 41:07
Label Fox Music
Producer Howard Shore
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 1.5/5 stars[10]
Track listing
  1. "Mrs. Doubtfire" – 2:58
  2. "Divorce" – 2:56
  3. "My Name Is Else Immelman" – 2:55
  4. "Meeting Mrs. Doubtfire" – 2:14
  5. "Tea Time with Mrs. Sellner" – 3:58
  6. "Dinner Is Served" – 2:18
  7. "Daniel and the Kids" – 2:29
  8. "Cable Cars" – 4:56
  9. "Bridges Restaurant" – 6:13
  10. "Show's Over" – 3:26
  11. "The Kids Need You" – 3:21
  12. "Figaro / Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" – 3:23

The score was composed, orchestrated, and conducted by Howard Shore. The CD was mastered by Ted Jensen. The song Robin Williams sings at the cartoon voice-over 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:


The film was released in the United States on November 24, 1993, and was rated PG-13.[11]

In January 1994, when released in the United Kingdom, the film received a certificate of 12 which, at the time, completely refused access to children under the age of 12 at cinemas. This resulted in cinemas requesting their local authorities to override the decision of the British Board of Film Classification, after having to turn down disappointed families. In February 1994, The Independent reported that the censors refused the film a U or PG certificate, and gave it a 12 instead, which was due to 20th Century Fox refusing to remove three controversial lines.[12]

After the film's distributors requested the BBFC to reconsider, a compromise was reached in which the film was re rated PG with the thirteen seconds of sexual innuendos cut, and it was re released in May 1994. The cut version was also used in subsequent VHS and DVD releases in the United Kingdom. In November 2012, the distributors resubmitted the uncut version to the BBFC, and the 12 certificate was reinstated.[13] On March 4, 2013, the uncut version was released on Blu-ray and downloads in the United Kingdom.


Box office[edit]

The film 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] making it the highest grossing cross-dressing film.[14] It became the second highest grossing film of 1993, behind only Jurassic Park.[15][16] Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 52.6 million tickets in the US.[17]

Critical reception[edit]

At the time of its release, several critics compared Mrs. Doubtfire unfavorably with Some Like It Hot (1959) and others who viewed the film favorably noted its similarity to Tootsie (1982).[18]

On Rotten Tomatoes, Mrs. Doubtfire has a rating of 71%, based on 49 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The site's critical reception reads, "On paper, Mrs. Doubtfire might seem excessively broad or sentimental, but Robin Williams shines so brightly in the title role that the end result is difficult to resist."[19][20] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 53 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[21]


In 2000, the American Film Institute placed the film on its 100 Years...100 Laughs list, where it was ranked #67.[22]

Cancelled sequel[edit]

In 2001, Mrs. Doubtfire 2 began being developed by Bonnie Hunt, but writing did not begin until 2003. Robin Williams was set to return in disguise as an old nanny. Due to problems with the script, re-writing began in 2006, as Williams was unhappy with the plot, and the sequel was again "scrapped" later that year. The film was expected to be released in late 2007, but following further script problems, the sequel was declared "scrapped" in December 2006.[23]

In 2006, in an Newsday interview, Williams said the sequel was indefinitely scrapped. Stating his reasons, he said, "The script they had just didn't work." The sequel's story involved Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire moving close to Lydia's college, so he could keep an eye on her.[24] In December 2006, during an interview on BBC Radio 1 by DJ Edith Bowman, Williams said that if it was not going to be done right, then it was not worth doing, and that there would not be a sequel with him in it.

In August 2010, on Alan Carr: Chatty Man, Williams again brought up the topic of a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. He blamed the script not being right as the reason why a sequel was not made. He claimed the script had been written three times and failed, and there was no mention of any ongoing work on the project. Furthermore, in December 2011, during an interview by Moviehole, Williams stated again that the chances of a sequel are "highly unlikely".

Williams stated in 2011:

"They could never write it. They kept trying and it doesn’t work.. because at the end of the first one they reveal who [Mrs. Doubtfire] is. So it ends up being her for five minutes and then she transitions into some old Russian woman. They so far can’t crack it.”[25]

In 2014,[26] Chris Columbus stated that:

In April 2014, it was announced that a sequel was in development at 20th Century Fox. Williams and Columbus were expected to return, and Elf screenwriter David Berenbaum was hired to write the script.[27] However, after Williams' suicide in August 2014, plans for a sequel were permanently cancelled.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Mrs. Doubtfire". Box Office Mojo. 24 November 1993. Retrieved 20 September 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Awards for Mrs. Doubtfire. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  4. ^ "Weekend box office 28th January 1994 - 30th January 1994". Retrieved 30 December 2016. 
  5. ^ "Film crimes against the Scottish accent" BBC 23 December 2013
  6. ^ Shot on This Site, William A. Gordon, Citadel, 1995, p.39.
  7. ^ "Robin Williams memorial grows outside 'Mrs. Doubtfire' house"
  8. ^ Jessica Probus. "The Actual Makeup From "Mrs. Doubtfire" Was Even More Intense Than You Realized". Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  9. ^ Christopher Hooton (2014-08-12). "Robin Williams, dressed as Mrs Doubtfire, walks into a sex shop… - News - Films". The Independent. Archived from the original on August 14, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  10. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Mrs. Doubtfire (Original Soundtrack Album) - Howard Shore". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  11. ^ "Mrs Doubtfire TV spot". You Tube. Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  12. ^ "Film stars lost for words: But why does Mrs Doubtfire have to swear? asks David Lister". 13 February 1994. Retrieved 11 March 2016. 
  13. ^ "Case study into the film's rating history in the UK". Retrieved 24 December 2015. 
  14. ^ "Arts & Media". Guinness World Records 2007 (UK ed.). Guiness World Records Limited. 2006. p. 182. ISBN 1-904994-11-3. 
  15. ^ Fox, David J. (1994-02-01). "Mrs. Doubtfire' Still the Champ". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  16. ^ Fox, David J. (1994-01-04). "Mrs. Doubtfire Takes the Holiday". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  17. ^ "Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  18. ^ "Papa's Got A Brand New Drag". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-11-14. 
  19. ^ "Review at Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  20. ^ "Go behind the scenes with 'Mrs. Doubtfire'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  21. ^ "Mrs. Doubtfire—Metacritic". Retrieved 5 April 2013. 
  22. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-28. 
  23. ^ "Williams Rejects Mrs. Doubtfire Sequel". 2006-12-07. Retrieved 2012-06-12. 
  24. ^ Brunton, Richard (December 5, 2006). "Williams says no Mrs Doubtfire 2". Filmstalker. Retrieved February 6, 2007. 
  25. ^ "MRS. DOUBTFIRE 2 in Development; Robin Williams Will Return". 2014-04-16. Retrieved 2016-08-26. 
  26. ^ UK, The Huffington Post (2014-04-17). "'Mrs. Doubtfire' Sequel In The Works?'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-08-27. 
  27. ^ Kit, Borys (April 16, 2014). "'Mrs. Doubtfire' Sequel in the Works at Fox 2000 (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  28. ^ Sperling, Nicole (August 11, 2014). "Robin Williams leaves behind four upcoming films". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 12, 2014. 

External links[edit]