MRS. DOUBTFIRE: BEHIND-THE-SEAMS EDITION
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Robin Williams as DANIEL HILLARD/MRS. DOUBTFIRE
Sally Field as MIRANDA HILLARD
Pierce Brosnan as STU DUNMEYER
Harvey Fierstein as UNCLE FRANK
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Studio: 20th Century Fox
BY KEVIN CARR
When the studios re-release a film like “Mrs. Doubtfire,” it kind of takes me by surprise. I just forget how old it is. Although the movie was released fifteen years ago, it still has a contemporary feel (minus Matthew Lawrence’s hair, that is), and it still works for today’s audiences.
And that means a lot coming from someone like me, who was never a big fan of the movie in the first place. Imagine how big of a deal and how much it has survived the test of time for someone who loves it.
The film tells the story of a divorced father who is struggling with child custody. He loves his kids; he’s just not terribly responsible. When it’s clear that he’s not going to get proper visitation with his kids, he resorts to subterfuge. He uses his natural acting ability to dress as the matronly Mrs. Doubtfire to become the kids’ nanny.
My biggest beef with “Mrs. Doubtfire” is what I complain about with most films that star whackety-schmackety comedians like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey. While they are often really good actors in their own right, they are thrown to their own wolves by the director. Instead of actually puling a performance out of Williams, Columbus just lets him “do his thing,” resulting in stuff that might be funny in the moment on set but doesn’t serve the bigger picture.
The greater story is sacrificed for schticky gags about a guy dressing as an old woman. This wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t seen a version of this done by John Ritter on “Three’s Company” multiple times in the past. There’s one scene in particular near the end of the film where it derails completely when Robin Williams’ character is trying to have dinner at the same restaurant in two different personas.
Still, if you like the movie, you won’t be bothered by this. Instead, you can enjoy a resurrection of the classic gender-bender comedy, brought to a new life on a special edition DVD. This new DVD comes with several older features, like a huge slate of deleted, extended and alternate scenes, behind the scenes photos, make-up tests and several featurettes.
There’s also an interview with Chris Columbus and Robin Williams, looking back at the film fifteen years later. However, the best feature by far is the easter egg that takes viewers to a clip from “Arrested Development” in which Tobias (David Cross) pulls his own Doubtfire on Lindsay (Portia de Rossi).