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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 addresses themes of divorce, separation and the effect it has on a family.

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]

Plot

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 after an argument with his boss, 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, but he tells Daniel that if he can find a suitable job and home within three months, he will consider a joint-custody arrangement, but for now Daniel can see the children on Saturdays only.

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 bad applicants. He finally calls Miranda as a 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 look like a 60-year-old woman.

Miranda hires Mrs. Doubtfire after an impressive interview. The children initially struggle with Mrs. Doubtfire's ways but soon come around and thrive, while Miranda learns to become closer with her children. Daniel learns several household skills as part of the role, improving his parenting skills; however, one night, Lydia and Chris discover Daniel's ploy when Chris notices Daniel urinating as a man in the Mrs. Doubtfire costume and reveals this to Lydia; thrilled to have their father back, they agree to keep his secret from Miranda (as she would be furious and possibly have Daniel sent to prison) and Natalie (as she is too young to understand).

While working at the station, Daniel is seen by the station's CEO, Jonathan Lundy, playing with toy dinosaurs on the set of an unsuccessful children's show on the verge of cancellation. Impressed by his voice acting and imagination, Lundy invites Daniel for a dinner 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 Dunmeyer, to which Mrs. Doubtfire has also been invited. Daniel tries to postpone his dinner with Lundy, but Lundy is booked for other events, so Daniel decides to change in and out of the Mrs. Doubtfire costume and attend both events.

As the dinners progress, Daniel gets drunk and starts making mistakes, even appearing before Lundy in the Mrs. Doubtfire costume. Stu starts choking on his dinner (after Daniel seasons Stu's meal with cayenne pepper, which Stu is allergic to), and Daniel, in the Mrs. Doubtfire costume, 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, as well as 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 every Saturday, 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 costume, 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, so she forgives him and 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.

Cast

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Production

Filming

File:Mrs doubtfire house san francisco.jpg

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 Script error: No such module "Coordinates". 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.

Music

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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:

Release

The film was released in the United States on November 24, 1993, and was rated PG-13.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12] On March 4, 2013, the uncut version was released on Blu-ray and downloads in the United Kingdom.

Reception

Box office

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

Critical reception

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).[17]

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."[18][19] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 53 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20]

Accolades

In 2000, the American Film Institute placed the film on its 100 Years...100 Laughs list, where it was ranked #67.[21]

Cancelled sequel

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.[22]

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.[23] 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.”[24]

In 2014,[25] Chris Columbus stated that:

We're talking about a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. We've [he and Williams] talked about it, and the studio is interested in it. The thing that fascinates me about a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire is with most actors who create an iconic character like Mrs. Doubtfire, when you come back and do that character, well, you're twenty years older so, you're not going to look the same.

The cool thing with Mrs. Doubtfire is there's a character, there's a woman, who is actually going to look exactly as she did in 1993.

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.[26] However, after Williams' suicide in August 2014, plans for a sequel were permanently cancelled.[27]

See also

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Script error: No such module "citation/CS1".
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  3. 3.0 3.1 Awards for Mrs. Doubtfire. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  4. Script error: No such module "citation/CS1".
  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"
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  19. "Go behind the scenes with 'Mrs. Doubtfire'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
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External links

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