Plot Spoilers Ahead.
Many of them.
This is one of my favorite comedies, and though it does squeeze a ton of laughs out of me, it is quite obviously a men’s/father’s rights activist film.
“Fun-loving” (irresponsible) husband Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) brings a bunch of zoo animals to the birthday party of his 12-year-old son Chris (after the kid asks excitedly about a stripper, to which Dad reacts positively). When wife Miranda (Sally Field) comes home, she’s the one who has to clean up. (There’s an animal eating the cake and a horse about to piss on the carpet). One of the neighbors, an elderly woman, is so worried about the ruckus she calls Miranda at work.
“Don’t you dare make me out to be the monster here! You have all the fun, and I get whatever’s left over!” she yells at him. “You chose the career,” he says, and she lets him know the truth, “I have no choices here!” She is forced to have the career because Daniel is an overgrown child, and his behavior sets her up to be the strict parent. She says it’s over and asks for a divorce. He makes a joke, she tells him not to, he says OK, like a child. But we’re a family, he pleads, like a 6 year old.
Lesson #1: Mom is the bad guy for setting up rules, and wives should let their husbands do whatever they want, even if it makes a problem for them.
Meanwhile, Daniel goes for support to his brother and his gay lover, who work in a makeup shop. Talking on the phone with Mom, his brother calls his partner a bitch. (True to form, the film has the nagging mother assume he’s talking about her).
Cut to the courtroom. There is a bald-headed male judge- an old asexual figure (old=mature and respectful of women; asexual=not hip enough to objectify women anymore). He lets Daniel know that although divorce proceedings used to favor the mother in the past, courts are coming to respect how important it is to have a father in their lives. However, his tone is no-nonsense and the function of this statement in the movie is to say that it isn’t enough for the judge to merely respect the rights of fathers; he has to ALWAYS side with the father.
The camera pans left, showing Daniel and his lawyer, a dumpy middle aged man with dull brown features…then showing the Mrs. with a sharp, flashy, attractive blonde she-lawyer, trendily dressed. The judge gives Miranda sole custody because Daniel doesn’t have a job. She-lawyer smiles and says “congratulations” to Miranda. The she-devils have won this round. Dad can only see his kids once a week. Daniel pleads with the judge, saying he hasn’t been away from his children one day since they were born. (The youngest is 5; the others are 12 and 14- apparently they’ve never had a sleepover or anything). The judge is kind, but firm. He gives him 3 months to find a house and a job, and then he can have joint custody. Daniel’s so sad he won’t even shake hands with his lawyer on the way out.
Lesson #2- women and men who are too old to have childish biases against women are not to be trusted.
Cut to the sidewalk. Daniel says goodbye to the kids and tells 12-year-old Chris he’s the man of the house now (even though older Lydie, 14, would make a better heir). Dad makes a rude joke about Granny- another older female- smelling funny because she’s so well preserved, even though the woman is very attractive for an elderly person.
Cut to the inside of a room in which Daniel’s being interviewed by the worst kind of monster the cosmos can come up with…an old woman who’s educated and official and- gasp!- doesn’t find his jokes funny! She is Mrs. Selner, the court liaison who has to check up on him and see if he’s following the judge’s requests. He imitates about 8 or 9 different voices for her. “Mr. Hillard, do you find yourself humorous?” she asks. “I used to…” he says. (Hey, that’s how I feel about Robin Williams! Boing!). But, apparently that isn’t enough. He gets a boring job boxing and shipping packages. Heaven forbid a man have to do boring work!
Lesson #3: women (especially OLD women) are boring and boys/men are fun!
Miranda works in her office, and dashy Stuart Dunmire (Pierce Brosnan) walks in. It’s obvious they’ve already had a thing for each other. He is handsome, courteous, rich, and sexy but not interested in sex for its own sake, or for unhealthy reasons. He is genuinely interested in her work and her personality, and is cultured. He’d love to have coffee and catch up. She’d love to as well, but she’s going through a horrible divorce. Stu is so sorry, he’d always hoped she’d find happiness. How nice, Miranda is happy he remembered her and cared so much. They go over designs together and plan to talk again soon.
Lesson #4: nice cultured moral guys- how men are supposed to act- are the annoying antagonists to the real male hero.
Daniel and the kids are at his new apartment. “How do you like it?”
“Nice,” says 5-year-old Natalie, “Okay,” says Chris, “Detestable”, says Lydia. Daniel looks at her sadly. (mini-lesson: boys are honest, older girls and women are negative and judgmental- read, fair- and little girls who have been unspoiled by feminism are sweet and positive).
“Can’t you just tell Mom you’re sorry?” little Nattie asks. “Wish I could. Grown up problems, they’re a little more complicated,” and you just know the film wants to continue: “because of that dreadful feminism!” Daniel goes on to morbidly joke that he hopes Mom didn’t die from diarrhea or disease. “Why would you want Mommy to die?” Nattie asks. “Oh honey, I don’t want Mommy to die,” he says, honestly. “Then why did you say that?” In the movie it’s kind of funny, especially since diarrhea is mentioned. But the real life parallels of this event are cases in which the father verbally abuses or attacks the mother when she’s away, in front of the kids. How many fathers in real life truly would give their ex-wives dysentery if they could?
“Look, Dad, you’re not trying very hard,” Lydia the voice of harsh feminine reason cracks down on him. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I’ll try harder.” he promises his daughter. It’s her job to socialize him.
Suddenly, a car pulls up- a bright red one, which could only be transporting a she-devil. The kids pop up, even though she’s an hour early, and Dad shouts at them to sit down. “You’re on my time now! You’re my goddamn kids too!” But Miranda doesn’t have time to let them stay- she has to drop something off at the newspapers- a personal ad. He accuses her jokingly of wanting to take out a dating ad in the paper, and asks if she’s going to advertise for B+D, in front of the kids. No, it’s a housekeeper, she says.
“May I see the ad? I have a right as their father.” (Father’s Rights!) Apparently he owns the children and has to help her make nanny decisions. Why not let me take the kids after school, says the father. “We’re his goddamn kids too!” Nattie tells Mom. Any other choice phrases you want to teach our 5 year old? Mom says to Daniel. (At least it wasn’t cocksucker. Whew!)
When she’s not looking, Daniel changes the phone number in her personal ad.
As we can see, the woman here is being faulted here for choosing to do expedient and functional errands, like the bank, the newspaper, school, etc- she is blamed for having to do non-frivolous things. The father is praised for doing frivolous things. But aren’t women the ones who are mocked for always caring about frivolous things like hair and makeup? Why is it okay when a man does it?
Lesson #5: don’t let your girls grow into women, they’ll be too objective and may even become critical of men’s behavior. And it’s okay to use sexual insults in front of your kids- oh, and only as long as it’s against your wife.
Daniel proceeds to call her house disguising his voice and pretending to be a various concoction of weird nannies. “I am job. I am job.” he pretends to be a Spanish speaking nanny. In the masculine world, racism is a must, because it’s not just about pushing women around, it’s about refusing to act womanly, meaning “good”; it’s about refusing to refuse to be racist. Miranda is grateful when “Mrs. Doubtfire”, an elderly British/Scottish nanny, finally calls.
Daniel goes to his gay brother, Frank, and his partner, Jack, and they use their makeup and a clay mask to turn him into an elderly woman. He tries on a few different styles and wigs, insultingly mimicking the “feminine” characteristics of each one, including a Hispanic one, an old Russian Jewess, and one with a Barbara Streisand wig. The two men, effeminate as they are, are still men, and they’re on his side. They even crack a joke about their mom’s looks before Daniel leaves.
The kids sit in the living room, watching a horror movie, which, of course, the boy loves. Mrs. Doubtfire knocks on the door and meets the kids. The little girl and the boy like her, and so does Lydie, who seems to sense something about Mrs. Doubtfire…feminine intuition, we might say. Miranda is delighted to find such a mature and strict nanny. Mrs. Doubtfire warns Miranda not to bash the father in front of the children, and the film proceeds to mock intuition and understanding of Miranda’s feelings by having “Mrs.” D. know just what’s going on in her life, where the spoons are, what she’s feeling, etc.
After Mrs. Doubtfire goes along “her” way, “she” is flirted with by the elderly bus driver. Though he’s polite, the attention isn’t quite wanted. He walks off the bus with his high heels and threatens to kill the misogynist who invented them. As the film Some Like It Hot said, “Now you know how the other half lives!” But of course, he only complains that he has to wear them. The film is perfectly okay with saddling that burden on “the other half”. And, of course, with assuming that men have no clue what it feels like to be on the receiving half until they experience it- quite the excuse.
He gets to the house and sees the elderly court liaison, Mrs. Selner, with a fright. He pretends to be Daniel’s sister, and says he’ll go get him for her. He rushes upstairs and changes into his own clothes and face. He comes down and talks to her about how great he’s been doing. He says his sister makes a great cup of tea, and Mrs. Selner asks for one, so he goes up to put his costume back on, but his mask falls out the window and a truck runs it over.
He rushes into the kitchen when she’s not looking, and dips his face into a white cake like it’s moisturizer. He tells her it’s good for the face, as it drips into their teacups. When he leaves the room, she dips her finger into it and puts it on her face. Those women! Even when they’re professionals they still can’t keep their minds off makeup!
Lesson #6: it’s okay to lie to women, especially if they are career women, in order to help yourself.
Mrs. Doubtfire tries to get used to life as a woman in the next montage. She walks in on the children as they watch TV and tells them it’s homework time instead. “But we always watch Dick Van Dyke,” says Lydie. (Why they’re watching Dick Van Dyke if it’s 1993 is beyond me. Guess the movie wanted to make a good ol’ days and innocence point about the children’s natures). If you don’t do your homework, you’ll be punished, Mrs. Doubtfire throws the remote in the fish tank. “She’s lying. She’d never punish us,” Lydie’s feminine intuition acts up. She’s wrong about that, though she senses “Mrs” D. is hiding something…
Mrs. Doubtfire sits on the couch sipping a drink in a somewhat lazy position (using his female costume and authority to exercise male privilege?) while the children scrub the house.
(RECORD SCREECH!!) WAIT A SECOND! MAJOR PLOT HOLE AHEAD!
If he can be mature and responsible as Mrs. Doubtfire, why can’t he be mature and responsible as the Dad?
Cut to the next scene, and he’s using another costume- the stupidity costume- to exercise the male privilege of not having to cook: he’s trying desperately to cook, boiling the pots over, burning himself, all the while the audience “knows” men are too stupid to cook and should get out of the responsibility! He burns his rubber breasts at the stove and goofily tries to put the flames out, implying female body parts are cumbersome, a burden, and laughable to boot. “My first day as a woman, and I’m getting hot flashes!” He solves the problem of his not being able to cook the male, capitalist way- by paying someone else to do it. He orders a gourmet takeout meal and sets the table.
On the way home, he is sized up by the same elderly bus driver, who gets a sight of his hairy leg. Embarrassed, Mrs. Doubtfire demurely covers up “her” leg with “her” kilt. “I like that Mediterranean look in women. Natural. The way God made you.” Many of us have noticed this behavior in men, this idea that no matter how un-“feminine” you are, you’re still fuckable. (But of course, in real life, there’s the added fact that they judge you for not being feminine enough as well, so you often get it from both ends). He doesn’t like the attention he’s getting, and one might expect, as the film wants to show, he’s more uncomfortable with it than women would be.
The idea presented here is an exact copy of the mainstream transsexual/transvestite argument: that a man performing a woman’s role is going to go through far more heavy psychological trauma than being a woman born into it.
In the next scene, Mrs. Doubtfire plays soccer with the kids in her dress, humorously highlighting how hard it is for women to function in their clothes, yet somehow steering clear of criticizing our culture’s roles for women. She vacuums the floor, learns to cook, and finally sees Stu Dunmire from the window, giving him the finger when he’s not looking.
Lesson #7: being a women is much harder for men than it is for women, so we should just let women keep doing it. They’re used to it.
Finally, Mrs. Doubtfire and Stu meet! Stuart Dunmire, “pretty boy” or “lover boy” or whatever it is, is visiting the Hillard family, playing with the children, so Daniel, as Mrs. Doubtfire, yanks off the metal Mercedes symbol off his car when everyone else is inside, before he enters…
“Ah, this must be the famous Mrs. Doubtfire! Miranda’s been raving about you.”
“Odd. She’s never mentioned you.”
“I have a home in London. I was born there. What part of England are you from? Your accent’s a little, kind of, muddled.”
“Really? Well, so is your tan!”
She hands him the Mercedes emblem. He says it’s off his car.
“You own that big expensive car out there? Oh, dear! They say a man who has to buy a big car like that is compensating for smaller genitals. But not in your case, cause I see you’re a strapping lad, aren’t ya?”
(funny how men always accuse women of being jealous, and not being able to control their emotions)
Mrs. Doubtfire asks about Stu, and Miranda says he’s becoming more than a friend. “Isn’t he fabulous?” says Miranda. Daniel decided to utilize the safe trust and bond between women to interject his own selfish agenda: “Well, I personally prefer short, furry, and funny.” Meh. He just wants to go out for a drink, says Miranda, but Mrs. Doubtfire warns her that men always have other intentions and Stu has lust in his eyes. Cut to Stu on the couch bouncing Natalie on his lap. Let it cool down before you bring someone else into the bed, she says. Apparently, women should accept that all men are potential sleazes, and let the few good ones slide because some of them are bad. You don’t deserve a dream man.
How long was it after Mr. Doubtfire died that Mrs. regained her interest in romance or sex? “Never,” says Mrs. D. “Once the father of your children is out of the picture, the only solution is lifelong celibacy. “Celibacy?” Miranda asks in horror. (Well, it’s Pierce Brosnan). “And if you violate that, heaven forgive ya!” (Bringing religion into a discussion about women’s sexual behavior, how fitting!)
Lesson #8: women have no right to attract to more than one man, or to be happy after they “commit” divorce; it’s okay to commit property damage against rival boyfriends.
Mrs. Doubtfire is upstairs teaching the children how to spell, and walks into the bathroom, forgetting to shut the door. Chris walks in, finds him using the toilet (of course he’s standing up, sheesh, why’d you even ask! It’s not like there’s any man in the world who can’t piss standing up, even though there are tons of different sizes and shape dicks; and of course if you can stand up, you must!) and runs away in horror.
“Call the cops!! He’s a he- she’s a sh- he’s a he she! She’s a he!” he freaks out, as if dressing in the “wrong” gender clothes warrants some kind of policeman’s or authority’s attention. “I’m not who you think I am,” Mrs. D. says. “No shit!” says Chris. “Watch your mouth, young man!” Daniel Hillard’s voice says. “Dad?” “Oh my god…” the children are shocked. Little Natalie is out of the room. Best keep the little ones away from these evil gender questions, right dearies?
“You don’t really like wearing that stuff, do you Dad?”
“Well. some of it’s comfortable- No!! It’s a pain in the padded ass!” (apparently “ass” is OK but “shit” is not. Huh).
“It’s really you in there!” says uber-girly Lydia, and she hugs him. Chris doesn’t want to hug him. “It’s cool,” Dad says, “It’s a guy thing.” I’m not sure if this means disliking hugging is a guy thing, or not wanting to hug weird people is a guy thing, or that seeing someone go to the bathroom and not wanting to hug them right after out of disgust is a guy thing. If it’s the last, this is strange because “masculine” men piss in front of each other like farm animals all the time.
Cut to inside the studio where Daniel works. An older middle aged man who looks like a scientist is hosting a kids’ educational program with model dinosaurs. “Which one’s the dinosaur?” Daniel asks the white haired guy next to him. “The one in the middle,” “You’re wrong. They’re all extinct.” The white haired guy looked at him for a couple seconds and lets out a hearty chuckle, like this is top notch comedy. “This guy used to put ME to sleep when I was a kid,” “He makes Mr. Rogers look like Mick Jagger.” Hah.
“What kind of idiot kept this guy on the air?”
“Me.” says the white haired guy, Mr. Jonathon Lundy, who turns out to be the general manager of the cartoon place Daniel was fired from. Daniel is genuinely embarrassed and apologizes for accidentally criticizing him, a courtesy he’d be loathe to afford his own wife. Of course, it was okay to criticize the older, effeminate male scientist.
The boss of Daniel’s boxing and shipping section comes over and tells him to get to work. Daniel asks Lundy, “Did you ever wish you could freeze frame a second of your day and say, ‘This is not my life?'” Yes. That’s what most women feel every day.
Frankie Valli’s “Walk Like A Man” plays as Mrs. Doubtfire walks down the street to Miranda’s. “She” tells Miranda about how pitiful her own husband, Winston, was, and how horrible he was in bed. What Despite his faults, she tells her a flawed husband is better than none at all. Huh? So this is the point of the whole movie, to tell us a woman needs a husband, preferably an imperfect one.
What was so bad about this man you lived with for fourteen whole years, she asks, blaming the wife for staying with the husband. (Perhaps she was just trying to follow the social rule that she must never divorce!) Miranda tells Mrs. Doubtfire about how kind and funny Daniel was, and how she started to get fed up with his constant joking. Apparently, based on the look on “Mrs Doubtfire’s” face, this is the first Daniel’s ever considered it. A nice excuse. “I never thought about it.”
True to form, the wife starts blaming herself for the marriage falling apart, by being too uptight and serious all the time, even though we have no proof that her anger isn’t justified. She admits that the reason she divorced him was because she didn’t want her kids growing up with a mother who was angry all the time. So she chose the divorce so that others could be happy, which, apparently, is the only acceptable reason for a woman to divorce, as evidenced by the heartwarming music that is playing.
Lesson #8: the way to make things better is to re-establish gender roles and let men be men
Mrs. Doubtfire and the family go swimming at a posh outdoor pool resort and see Stu at the top of the diving board. “She” mocks his good looks in front of the children. Of course, ten minutes later, “she’s” ogling a blonde chick at the outdoor bar. (Isn’t he trying to get back with his wife??) In the film’s world, it’s okay for a man to expect an attractive woman as a girlfriend, but it isn’t okay for a woman to expect Pierce Brosnan as a boyfriend. Also, a man who cares about his looks and makes himself “pretty” is inconveniencing himself, lowering himself to the status of a woman.
Mrs. Doubtfire sits at the bar, belching with a beer in “her” hand, watching Stu take Dad’s property, his wife and children, by carrying them in the pool. A blonde with curves comes over, “she” offers her a drink, gets turned down. Stu comes over, and talks to the bartender, who asks Stu why he suddenly is interested in a woman with so much “baggage” (loving family), and Stu says he adores the kids, especially little Natalie. We see he is a good guy, but he becomes the ultimate villain half a minute later, when he calls the ex-husband Daniel a “loser”. “Mrs. Doubtfire” throws a lime onto the back of his head, and makes a lame lie about someone else doing it, a run-by fruiting!
Lesson #9: it’s okay to physically assault a man if he “steals” “your” wife and kids.
Magical music plays as Daniel creeps up to the dinosaur models, when he’s supposed to be working. (Of course, it has to be dinosaurs). This is his chance to escape boring necessary work and get in touch with his true creative self- an opportunity never offered to women. He picks them up and starts his monologue, and it starts to get really sad…
“Please welcome the King!” He picks up a T-Rex, the king of dinosaurs and does an Elvis act. “It’s a dinner show! I’m gonna make you lunch!” Lundy is entering the room slowly, a smile on his face, genuinely impressed, like he’s watching the next Lenny Bruce or something.
Daniel picks up the brontosaurus- James Brownasaurus- “I eat wood! Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh! It tastes good! Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh! No meat! Big feet! I eat wood! Bum bum bum bum! Whoa!”
The worst one yet is the Raptor Rap. “I’m a raptor! Doin what I can! Gonna eat everything till the appearance of man! Yo yo, see me, I’m livin’ below the soil. I’ll be back but I’m comin’ as oil!” He’s interrupted by Lundy clapping. “That’s some funny stuff,” Lundy says. He likes it so much he invites him for an interview at Bridges restaurant.
Men are socialized in our society to be small minded, and to make huge deals of small things. They see a B-rate action movie; they say it’s epic and amazing. They hear something kinda witty; Oh my god, he’s as funny as Dave Chappelle! Girl next door? She’s hot! And of course, their own accomplishments are marveled at too much, like in the case of Daniel’s sorta funny dinosaur imitations. His wife’s designing templates are easily more magnificent, yet is she ever applauded the way he is?
Lesson #10: men deserve to be lauded for small accomplishments, especially those which are frivolous, because they oppose the world of responsibility.
“I’m really proud of you,” 14-year-old Lydia says to 35+ year-old dad Daniel, taking the female role of mother. He’s proud of himself for having learned to cook and sew, and asks Miranda to give him another chance, but she thinks Mrs. Doubtfire is the best thing that’s happened to them and doesn’t want to get rid of her.
Mrs. Doubtfire gives Miranda advice on what dress to pick for her birthday party with Stu, and dismisses a bright red dress and a short black one, though the kids like it. They are too sexy, says Mrs. Doubtfire, and she goes into the closet and picks a black frock Miranda wore to her aunt’s funeral 15 years ago. Women aren’t allowed to be sexually active after their first owner is out of the picture, it seems. “I won’t be held responsible for your virtue,” Mrs. Doubtfire says. “Who will protect you?” But it’s okay, Miranda says, you’re invited too! The dinner is at Bridges…at the same day and time as Daniel’s meeting with Jonathon Lundy!
They arrive at the restaurant, and he decided to go half the dinner as Mrs. Doubtfire, and half as Daniel Hillard, changing costume several times. Stu gets Miranda a diamond bracelet for her birthday present. Natalie has to go to the bathroom, and Mrs. Doubtfire tells the kids to pick out a dessert at the tray, so everyone important is out of the scene:
“Bit of a going-down payment, no?” she asks Stu about the jewelry. Trying to get in her pants, is he? “A bit of the horizontal mambo? Humpty Dumpty? Little Jack Horny?” Giggity goo. He tries the old “call the woman a slut” tactic to try and scare Stu away. “She has a power tool in the bedroom. It’s amazing she hasn’t chipped her teeth.” Daniel realizes he has to meet Mr. Lundy now, before he gets pissed. Mrs. Doubtfire runs off the the bathroom, saying it’s the wine and blaming her “tiny bladder”, reinforcing another negative untruth about women, that they’re all tiny and perpetually broken.
He changes up in the womens’ room, a sort of interesting nod to the reality of men dressing up like women to gain access to female-only spaces. He comes out as Daniel and has dinner a bit with Lundy, downing some more alcohol. He sees Stu and the fam looking for Mrs. D. and rushes back into the women’s room and changes back. They order dinner and Stu tells the waiters he’s allergic to pepper. Stu assists “her” when her teeth fall out into her wine glass, and “she” repays him by shaking them off at his face. He goes to reattach them and gets back into his male clothes.
He has more alcohol with Lundy, fulfilling the male goal of total self destruction. He forgot to take off his lipstick so he brags that he’s just kissed it off a waitress, and Lundy congratulates him, and asks if she has a lady friend for him.
Daniel dressed back up as Doubtfire and sneaks into the kitchen, where he puts a ton of hot cayenne pepper on Stu’s shrimp dish. He accidentally goes back to Lundy’s table, and when Lundy asks him why he’s dressed like that, tells him Mrs. Doubtfire is the new character for his show. Across the room, Stu starts choking because he has an allergic reaction to the pepper on the shrimp. “Oh, god, I killed the bastard,” says Daniel, and then leaps to help save him with the Heimlich maneuver. Stu falls on top of him and spits the shrimp out, while “Mrs. Doubtfire’s” mask is ripped halfway off.
Miranda screams. “Happy birthday,” Daniel smiles at her sheepishly. She screams more and says she has to leave. She’s a lot less shocked and angry than the average person would be. “Come on!” she says to the kids. “We’re sorry Dad,” they say. Good kids are on Daddy’s side. And they take the blame for what he does. “Sorry bout the pepper,” he tells Stu. “That’s okay,” says Stu, always the gentleman.
Lesson #12: if you lie to others, physically assault others, and create psychological harm, that’s okay, as long as you’re a man and the butt end of your actions is a bitchy woman or respectful, sexually responsible male.
Lesson #13: the more harm you cause, it means the more you love your wife, and this “love” (self-centered emotional need) determines who deserves to be in a relationship.
Cut to the courtroom. Daniel, the true individualist, acts as his own attorney. Stu, having heard Daniel’s confession about the pepper, could have pressed serious charges, but obviously hasn’t, because the judge only cites Daniel’s odd behavior and unorthodox lifestyle as reason to keep his children away from him. Miranda looks as if she’s made a mistake; she looks sad, guilty. Guilty for opposing her husband and his happiness (it’s not like he’s fighting for the right to see his kids at ALL; he’s allowed supervised visitation rights every week).
The kids and Miranda are having a hard time finding a nanny (it seems they are only looking for women, by the way). They seem depressed and dejected, but it doesn’t seem to be because they are lacking Mrs. Doubtfire, but because they are lacking Dad. Suddenly, “she” appears on TV! She has her own show, and the family goes to see Daniel and Mr. Lundy on the set. Miranda and Daniel talk, a la Santa Clause, about their past troubles, and Miranda comes out with the truth: she’s not upset for the benefit of herself, but for the sake of the children. Things were a lot better when Mrs. Doubtfire was here, Miranda says. The film portrays womanly influence, whether Mrs. Doubtfire’s or Miranda’s, as the key to children’s happiness. The enslavement of a women, unfortunately, is necessary for this, unless a responsible man- like Stu, who is not mentioned again- is present. Also like in the Santa Clause, the mother changes or ignores the court order for the sake of the family, and allows Daniel more access to his kids.
We don’t see or hear from Stu since he chokes. Is he out of the picture? Has he been “emasculated” by choking and doesn’t want to come back? (or does the film not want him back since he’s no longer “masculine”?) Did he leave because of the weird behavior of Daniel? He doesn’t seem the sort to abandon Miranda for that reason. An even worse possibility is that he isn’t seen anymore because he isn’t necessary anymore, that it doens’t matter either way whether he’s in her life or not. As an object of happiness for Miranda, maybe he doesn’t fit into the story anymore…because the story is about how women should be good mothers, not happy.
At the end of the film, Mrs. Doubtfire reads a letter from a fan on her TV show that asks about divorce. She tells the children that sometimes mommies and daddies don’t love each other anymore and can’t live together, but they’ll always love you. Behind this is the idea that no matter what, Miranda will never be able to get rid of Daniel’s influence.
The film portrays the “liberation” of an immature man who wants to do “fulfilling” work at the expense of his wife and her happiness, and then laments when he has to lose out because of his decisions. It’s a men’s rights activist film all the way, in that it makes a case that no matter how strange or hurtful a father’s actions, he should always be allowed to influence the mother and children.
In the movie, Daniel is not insane, or even very dangerous- he’s just quirky and hyperactive. He’s even likable. However, the point of this review is not about Daniel or about the movie, but about the real life events the movie’s events parallel. In real life, who’s to say the equivalent of Daniel wouldn’t have actually poisoned the equivalent of Stu, or threw a rock at his head instead of a lime? How do we know he wouldn’t have tried to kidnap his children, or threaten his wife? What kind of job could he possibly hold down? The film’s problem is that it copies common relationship and gender narratives and sanitizes them for the screen, basically saying, “Those divorce proceedings you keep hearing about? Here’s what’s going on at the heart of them!” and then portrays the woman and feminism as the bad guy.
Daniel Hillard is an unemployed, borderline ADHD man who “does voices”, makes rude jokes about others, insults his wife, and does no actual productive wholesome work. He’s what the mucho-individualists like to call “a free spirit”. He also commits property damage, and physically assaults another character at least twice, once life-threateningly. His name is innocent and childlike. He has an overinflated view of himself comedically.
Miranda Hillard is the career woman who isn’t evil on the inside, just needs help, needs to be tamed by a man. Her name is seductive and witchy. She always has her hair straight, or has a suit on. She’s “quick” to anger (because what happens to her is often horrible enough to make anyone that angry) and she’s shown as a woman who needs to lighten up and change her behavior to accommodate a man.
Lydia doesn’t wear makeup, and the film team made her features look dull and brown. She is a girly girl, and not the scary type (the loud, emotive, self-assured type). She’s “safe”, both in her style, and her personality; safe for men, meaning she may be boring, but she won’t challenge or outshine them. Men tend to like those types.
Chris is the typical average featured preteen boy, with brown hair of a very generic length and style. He likes horror movies, tough talk, and proving he’s a “guy” (not too often though). He’s your average, good, likeable kid.
Natalie’s name is very important: it means birth. Birth is a good thing. It keeps those nasty women in the home where they belong. Her innocence and charm are a reminder to the father of what females are like before they discover that awful feminism (meaning: before they discover how horribly they’ll be treated by men and start complaining).
Stuart Dunmire is everything a woman can dream of. He’s handsome, dashing, protective but not overbearing, not interested in sex for sex’s sake, and has good manners. Did we mention he’s rich? He loves the kids, is interested in Miranda’s personality and life, and is an object of her happiness and liberation. He is portrayed as the kind but annoying new boyfriend, who has everything a girl can ever want…but isn’t right for her, since he makes her happy.
In all, the movie is a fun film and gets quite a few laughs out of me every time I watch it. But if it is taken as gospel and not merely as entertaining fictional comedy, then it’s what we must term a men’s rights activist film, because its main theme is that men should be able to do whatever they want and women will always clean up after them emotionally and physically because they love them.