After a birthday party he threw for his son gets out of hand, leading to his divorce, Daniel Hillard seeks a way back into his kids’ lives. So, he dresses up as an older woman to be their nanny in the 1993 comedy classic, “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Robin Williams stars in the title role in what has become known as one of his quintessential roles that any fan of his, or of comedy in general, must see. The film also features strong performances from Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan.
This is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen and one that, in the days when I had watched live TV, I would leave on through the commercials if I found it on TV. This film probably couldn’t be made today because someone would misinterpret the comedy as making fun of men who like to wear women’s clothes. But, in the end, the story of a father who will do anything to spend time with his children, even pretend to be an older woman so he can be their nanny, should be one that is universally accepted. I know, as a father, if I were ever in the same situation, I would do anything to see my children. Daniel Hillard wasn’t a great husband, but he was a great father.
This film could’ve very easily fallen into the trap of making the mother into a villain because of the circumstance of the divorce and everything that happens afterward, but it doesn’t. Sally Field plays Miranda Hillard as a tough, but fair woman who is just tired of how immature Daniel is being. What seemed charming when they were young is tiresome when they have three kids. And, when it matters most she works with Daniel to ensure he still gets to see his children. She doesn’t want to take the kids away from him. She doesn’t want to keep him away. She knows he’s a good father. But, she can’t be in a relationship with him anymore because he hasn’t grown up the way she has. It’s easy to understand. The relationship failed, but she’s not a bad mother. And she wasn’t a bad wife. We’re meant to sympathize with Daniel, but we can also sympathize with Miranda.
Is this Robin Williams’ best movie? Maybe. It’s certainly a contender. Is this Robin Williams’ best performance? I think so. He perfectly blends comedy and drama. He’s hilarious for the majority of the movie, but when he needs to hit the dramatic part of a father about to lose custody of his children, he nails it. You can see here why he was selected for a dramatic role in “Good Will Hunting” that won him an Oscar. He was great on “Mork and Mindy.” He was great in “Aladdin.” He was great numerous times after this, but this may be his defining performance. And, it’s a laugh riot to boot.
Ranking: 5 stars out of 5
What did you think of “Mrs. Doubtfire?”