Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)


Mrs. Doubtfire is a 1993 American comedy film starring Robin Williams and Sally Field and based on the novel 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. The film was placed 67th in the American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Laughs: America's Funniest Movies (see the 100 Years Series), a list of the 100 funniest movies of the 20th century, and was also rated #40 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies of All Time. The original music score was composed by Howard Shore.


Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) is an unemployed voice actor, and a good father loved by his three children. However, he also suffers from an increasingly strained marriage to his wife Miranda (Sally Field), an interior designer who has grown to dislike her husband's immaturity. On the day of their son's birthday, Daniel hires a local petting zoo to throw a large birthday party for his son. After receiving a complaint at work from a neighbor, Miranda discovers that Daniel has thrown the party without her consent, because their son had a bad report card. This is the last straw for Miranda, who subsequently divorces her husband. Since Daniel has no steady source of income, Miranda gets primary custody of their three children, twelve-year-old Chris (Matthew Lawrence), fourteen-year-old Lydia (Lisa Jakub), and five-year-old Natalie (Mara Wilson). Daniel has visitation rights limited to Saturday evenings, devastating him as he adores his children. The judge, acknowledging this, agrees to consider a joint custody arrangement if Daniel can get a job and create a suitable home within three months. When Daniel learns that Miranda intends to place an advertisement for a housekeeper, he adopts the persona of a sixty-year-old English caretaker named Euphegenia Doubtfire, and applies for the job himself. When Miranda accepts, Daniel recruits his brother Frank (Harvey Fierstein), a makeup artist, and his partner Jack (Scott Capurro), to design a costume for Mrs. Doubtfire. Though the children are initially hostile toward their new nanny, as Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel is able to see his children every day, giving him the opportunity to be the firm father figure he wasn't before. Eventually the children begin to respond favorably to Mrs. Doubtfire's methods, and Miranda is able to heal her rocky relationship with them and with Daniel as well, who begins to improve himself through his alter ego by learning gourmet cooking and refurnishing his new apartment. For a while, Daniel is able to keep up the charade, despite nearly being discovered by his caseworker Mrs. Sellner (Anne Haney), and attempting to ruin his ex-wife's relationship with Stuart Dunmire (Pierce Brosnan), her new boyfriend, who dislikes Daniel. Ultimately, Daniel's cover is blown when Chris walks in on him in the bathroom by accident. He explains to Lydia and Chris what he has done, and tells them that they cannot tell Miranda, because Miranda would report him and having him removed from the children's lives, or Natalie, as she is too young to understand and would possibly tell Miranda. Both children are happy to have their father back in their lives, and agree to help maintain the pretense. Meanwhile, at the TV station where Daniel works as a shipping clerk, the station's CEO Jonathan Lundy (Robert Prosky) sees him clowning with toy dinosaurs on the set of a children's program and is impressed enough to schedule a dinner meeting to hear his ideas. Stuart plans to celebrate Miranda's birthday by taking the family out to the same restaurant at the same time, and everyone expects Mrs. Doubtfire to join them. Daniel tries to postpone his dinner with Lundy, but Lundy is booked for two months, and Lundy's secretary advises him not to cancel the appointment. At the restaurant, Daniel attempts to rotate back and forth between Lundy and his family, using the restroom to change back and forth from himself to Doubtfire. At one point, Daniel dumps cayenne pepper on Stuart's order of jambalaya, an ingredient that he is allergic to, not realizing the potential consequences of this action. He also becomes increasingly intoxicated throughout the evening and forgets to remove his costume before returning to Lundy's table. He covers for the mistake by explaining to Lundy that his alter ego is merely his idea for a new TV persona. Lundy is once again impressed, and agrees to develop the character into a possible television program. At that moment, Daniel notices that Stuart is choking on the pepper and administers the Heimlich maneuver. However, part of his mask tears off, revealing his identity, and Miranda is horrified to discover who her nanny really is. As a result, Miranda receives full custody of the children. Despite his impassioned plea that the motive was solely for the love of his children, the judge, believing his actions to be the result of insanity, restricts Daniel's visitation rights by ordering him to undergo supervised visits, only once a week and also suggests therapy; Miranda is equally appalled by this. Meanwhile, as Mrs. Doubtfire, he becomes the star of Lundy's new television program, "Euphegenia's House". It quickly becomes the highest-rated program in its timeslot, creating the possibility that the show will be aired nationwide. Upon realising how unhappy the children - and she herself she admits - are without Mrs. Doubtfire, Miranda pays Daniel a visit on the set and tells him that she doesn't want to keep hurting the children over the custody issues, and that she knows the children were happier with Mrs Doubtfire in their lives. She persuades the courts to grant Daniel unlimited access to the children and invites him back in their home. Daniel picks the kids up to spend an afternoon with them, while Miranda, smiling, watches an episode of Daniel's show in which Mrs. Doubtfire answers a letter from another child of divorce asking for advice. She explains that no matter what type of living arrangement such children may have, love will maintain the bond of the family.