One of my favourite movies is “Mrs Doubtfire.” This 1993 movie comes from a novel, “Alias Madame Doubtfire,” by Anne Fine. It stars the amazing Robin Williams and Sally Field as Daniel and Miranda Hillard.
The Hillards are a seemingly happily married couple who have three children: son Chris and two daughters, Lydia and Natalie. Mom Miranda is an ambitious businessperson. Dad Daniel is an actor who specializes in voicing characters.
Daniel believes his marriage is a happy one for both himself and his wife. Then he loses his job. He throws a birthday party for Chris that Miranda misses due to work, and she blows up.
Miranda tells Daniel he is irresponsible and immature. She says he always makes her feel like the "bad guy" for having to be the responsible parent, the disciplinarian. She tells him she wants a divorce.
Daniel is devastated. He begs her for another chance. Miranda is adamant; she has had enough.
Miranda files for divorce. Daniel moves out and begins looking for a new job but doesn't have much luck. Meanwhile, Miranda is having problems finding a housekeeper/nanny for the kids.
Daniel devises a plan to both earn money and spend more time with his children. He concocts a disguise and responds to Miranda's ad for a housekeeper/nanny as “Mrs Doubtfire.” It works and he is hired on the spot.
Everything is going great. Neither the kids nor Miranda suspects a thing. Then an old flame comes back into Miranda's life.
Stu, portrayed by Pierce Brosnan, begins dating Miranda, which Daniel doesn't like. He is still very much in love with his estranged wife. Then Stu starts spending time with his wife and his children, and this doesn't go over well at all.
Daniel, as “Mrs Doubtfire,” sets out to sabotage the budding relationship. "“Mrs Doubtfire” " advises Miranda to dress matronly for dates and attempts to convince Stu that he can't satisfy her. None of it seems to work.
At the same time some other issues are arising. The children, missing their father, become a bit rebellious and begin to defy "her." At his apartment, Daniel has received a visit from a Child Services worker. The Court assigned her to make sure his home is appropriate for visits with his kids.
Miranda's relationship with Stu is becoming more serious and the kids are starting to warm up to him. Daniel sees his family slipping away from him and he feels helpless to stop it. Then he accidentally blows his cover and exposes himself to his son, literally!
"Mrs Doubtfire” is using the restroom and Chris walks in on him, doing his business standing up. Daniel has no choice but to reveal the truth to Chris and Lydia. Natalie, he says, is too little to be able to understand, or keep his secret.
Daniel receives a great job offer, and is to have dinner with his prospective new employer. Then Stu invites the entire family, including “Mrs Doubtfire,” to dinner to celebrate Miranda's birthday. The problem is both dinner dates are the same night, at the same restaurant.
Miranda tells “Mrs Doubtfire” that she MUST come along for her birthday celebration, that she is a member of the family. Daniel tries to reschedule the other dinner appointment and is unable to due to the man's full schedule. His creative mind quickly devises a plan.
The evening of the dinners arrives, and “Mrs Doubtfire” is ready, with her large "handbag.” Inside the handbag are a men's suit, tie, and shoes. As soon as the family settles at their table, “Mrs Doubtfire” excuses herself to use the restroom.
In the restroom, Daniel does a quick change out of his “Mrs Doubtfire” disguise. He stashes it in the bag and puts on his regular clothing. He then goes out and greets his prospective employer, seated on the other side of the restaurant.
Before he heads to the table, however, he takes a little detour. He is aware that Stu is allergic to paprika ans has ordered his dinner without it. Daniel sneaks into the kitchen and laces Stu's entree with a generous helping of paprika.
As you can imagine, a hilarious race then begins to change and move between the two tables quickly. As both “Mrs Doubtfire” and Daniel Hillard, Daniel is drinking alcohol. This leads to catastrophe.
Daniel goes to the wrong table dressed as “Mrs Doubtfire.” He then convinces his boss-to-be that this was part of his plan. He is presenting a new character to him for a possible television show: "“Mrs Doubtfire.”
During their conversation, he sees that Stu has eaten his food and is now choking as a result. His guilty conscience takes over and he runs to Stu's rescue, jumping over tables and people to get there. As he is administering CPR, his wig falls off and he begins speaking in his normal voice.
Miranda is horrified to discover the nanny whom she had been confiding in is actually her estranged husband. She takes the kids and storms out of the restaurant. The next scene is the two of them back in front of a judge, discussing Daniel's visitation.
Daniel tells the Court he only wanted to spend time with them, but it doesn't matter. The judge is livid about Daniel's behavior. He discontinues Daniel's visitation with the kids until he has a psych evaluation.
Miranda, realizing the depth of his love and dedication to his family, makes an offer. She is now in need of a sitter again, so why not Daniel - as himself? The kids are thrilled and Daniel is over the moon.
Daniel gets the new job and gets to spend a lot of time with his kids. When they are not at home, they are with Daniel at his apartment. The story has a very happy conclusion.
I like this movie because it is a "feel-good" movie. In a world where too many divorces end in bitterness, this is a nice story. It shows that things don't have to be bad and parents can work together.
Jane Doe writes from the American South East.
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