Movie Review: Mrs. Doubtfire

In Remembrance of Robin Williams
Everyday, more names are added to the obituaries. Sometimes, it’s of an actor or actress we “know”. But when news broke that Robin Williams passed away, it hit me harder than I ever thought possible. I never met the man. He didn’t know me. I recognized his extreme talent through past works. I marveled in his wit whenever he gave interviews. But at the end of the day, I still know nothing of him, personally. Why did his passing strike me so hard?

The most recent work of Williams that I saw was Bicentennial Man. I watched this with my late brother. And perhaps that is why I haven’t seen another Williams’ work since. I associated them. When I see Williams’ face, I hear him say “Little Miss”, which my late brother adopted as my nickname. Perhaps Williams’ passing reminded me of my own loss, my very personal loss. It has been twelve years since October 29th, 2002. The pain is still there.

A part of me is upset at society. We are still so ignorant about mental illnesses. We senselessly establish and maintain a stigma for those diagnosed with mental illnesses. We call them weak. We call them moody. We think it’s all psychological and something people can just snap out of. Depression is a physical illness and it is debilitating. Get professional help.

Love. Love often and love deeply. Don’t let anyone in your circles of family, friendship, and acquaintances feel lonely. Reassure them that they can lean on you and that you love them without judgment.

Since I prefer celebrating life over mourning loss, Thanh and I decided to watch one of Williams’ most known works – Mrs. Doubtfire.

Title: Mrs. Doubtfire
Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Robin Williams, Sally Field, Lisa Jakub, Matthew Lawrence, Mara Wilson, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 125 minutes
Accolades: Best Picture (Musical/Comedy) and Best Actor (Musical/Comedy) at the Golden Globe; Best Makeup at the Oscar
Purchase Mrs. Doubtfire: DVD

Plot
After fourteen years of marriage, Daniel (Robin Williams) and Miranda (Sally Field) filed for divorce. They have three children, whom Daniel could only spend time with on Saturdays. A devoted but slightly irrational Daniel transformed into an elderly woman in order to secure the position as his children’s nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire. Disguised as the nanny, Daniel managed to bring peace and warmth back into his household.

He Said
I was underage the first time I watched Mrs. Doubtfire nearly 20 years ago and I only recalled laughing at the hilarious antics (notably the infamous scene in which Williams’ titular character tries to cook dinner and sets ablaze his fake bosoms). This time around, the movie was even more wonderful than I remembered (which often isn’t the case when you try to rewatch childhood favorites) as I had completely missed the realism and poignancy in its social commentary on divorce, marriage, and family. Williams gave a standout performance as per usual that was complemented by his co-stars (side note: it was strange seeing a younger Sally Field as I will always see her as the Walker matriarch from Brothers & Sisters, but great to see her nuanced performance in her rather limited role here).

She Said
A perfect family drama! So much love, beauty, and genuine warmth. Daniel said it best when he claimed that he’s simply a father addicted to his children. Right from the start, Williams portrayed impeccable chemistry with his movie children. The court rulings brought tears to my eyes. I became invested in Daniel’s success in securing time with his children and improving his career/habitat. I almost resented the realistic ending for I desperately wanted the family to be wholesome again. This movie was an honest portrayal of divorce and would serve as a good explanation for children going through this difficult transition.

We Say
Mrs. Doubtfire is a classic, timeless movie that showcases the extraordinary talents of one of the most brilliant actors of modern times, the late Robin Williams. It does require suspension of belief, but it is a must-watch movie that goes beyond the humor (something that comedies as of late rarely do) to deliver a meaningful and realistic message about family and divorce.

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