Light, predictable, funny. While there is nothing in the plot outline that hasn’t been done before in other movies about cross-dressing and divorce, a cast consisting of the perfectly cast Robin Williams, Sally Field, Harvey Fierstein and Pierce Brosnan should not be overlooked. Recommended? This movie has many funny moments, and while many of these elements have been done better in the past, it is still a fun movie and worth seeing.
The story does not offer anything original: we see a man who dresses as a woman and gets a job while learning about the experiences that women have which are different from men, just like Tootsie (1982). We also see a parent who will do anything to be with his kids after being denied custody rights (I haven’t seen Kramer vs. Kramer yet, but I’m sure that when I do, I know what I’m getting into). The father dislikes the mother’s new boyfriend, the mother learns to relax and be happy again. The only real mystery is whether or not the two will get back together in the end. Mrs. Doubtfire is a fun, family comedy that presents the effects of divorce on a family in a comedic setting and includes some very clever moments and funny dialogue.
At the very least, the star-studded cast adds some life to these worn out roles. Robin Williams plays his usual “love-it-or-hate-it” flair, exploiting his love of going back and forth among different characters within the same role. In that respect, the role of Daniel Hillard is perfect, possibly even written/adapted for him specifically. In an age where actors like Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler fail at their attempts to play multiple characters in a movie for the purpose of comedy, here is one actor who could seriously pull it off. I don’t know if he has ever done it before, but if he has, I beg of anyone who has seen it to let me know.
Also magnificent is Sally Field, balancing classy and funny and delivering every line perfectly. Pierce Brosnan is the clean cut new boyfriend who you hate out of sympathy for the main character and Harvey Fierstein is Williams’ flamboyant brother whose voice and body language compliment his character perfectly. It is noteworthy that among Williams’ impressions in the film were references to James Bond and Fiddler on the Roof, whose reprisals would feature Brosnan and Fierstein on screen and stage respectively.
Overall, Mrs. Doubtfire is fun and enjoyable. There are some good life lessons in there about family and relationships and more than a few laughs along the way. It will be interesting to see who from the original cast will return for the scheduled 2015 sequel.