Mrs. Doubtfire certainly was a movie ahead of its time. Years before terms such as family diversity became popular, British writer Anne Fine had already published a book about unconditional love and how far someone can go to protect their loved ones. The film adaption was made by Leslie Dixon and Randi Mayem Singer, starring Robin Williams and Sally Field.
Daniel Hillard is a voice actor who loses the custody of his three children after divorcing his wife, Miranda. He’s a smart and talented man but his eccentric and kind of irresponsible behavior always gets him into trouble. Now, he must find a way to be close of his kids again.
It couldn’t be any other way of course: he decides to dress in drag to get a job as a nanny. Therefore he becomes Mrs. Doubtfire, a British, neat and charming British 60-something lady. Suddenly, Daniel is closer than ever to his children, Lydia (15), Chris (13) & Natalie (6).
Now Daniel is living a double life: he’s a one of a kind nanny and also works in a television station, a place where his talent as a comedian is later discovered by the CEO himself (Robert Prosky). But this professional rebirth is not good enough to make him happy. Deep down in his heart he longs to be again the proud father of those three kids with no legal restriction at all.
Finally, Lydia and Chris found out the truth about Mrs. Doubtfire but promise to keep the secret. There are of course dozens of funny moments and Robin Williams delivers an extraordinary performance as an endearing father, one who would give his own life in a heartbeat just for the sake of his children.
Williams’ character embodies the best of both worlds: the raw masculinity and the most pleasant (and at the same time hilarious) femininity. These days, there are a lot of so-called comedians dressing in drag just to make fun of women, but the joke’s on them: none of those could portrait a lady with such precision and dignity as Robin did.
Eventually, Daniel’s shenanigans come to light and now he’s in a worse situation, as he’s limited to supervised visitation just once a week. In the meantime, Miranda’s relationship with his new man Stuart (Pierce Brosnan) gets serious while Daniel is hired as the new host of a very particular TV show.
Miranda comes to her senses and allows Daniel to visit his family with no legal limitations, whatsoever. They are happier than ever, and the once happily married couple finally learns how to get along well with each other with no judgment, tension or hate.
The movie's last scene resumes the message in the best way possible: as Daniel picks up his children to spend the day with them, Mrs. Doubtfire’s sweet and tender voice is heard on TV advising one of her young fans. She delivers a magnificent speech about family, tolerance and love.
More than two decades later, part of the society is trying to take away the rights of those who want to adopt other people’s unwanted children, let’s say gay couples. The concept of “morality” is so washed-up that some might think it is ok to see children dying on the streets or being mistreated in some orphanages rather than being loved by others, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Maybe it is time to remember those final lines of the movie, in response to a little girl’s letter to Mrs. Doubtfire:
Some parents, when they're angry, they get along much better when they don't live together. They don't fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies. And sometimes they get back together. And sometimes they don't. And if they don't, don't blame yourself. Just because they don't love each other anymore, doesn't mean that they don't love you. There are all sorts of different families. Some families have one mommy; some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country, and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months... even years at a time. But if there's love, dear... those are the ties that bind, and you'll have a family in your heart, forever. All my love to you poppet, you're going to be alright... bye bye.
It should be all about love and nothing else.
Mrs. Doubtfire, 1993
Blue Wolf Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Chris Columbus
Produced by Marsha Garces Williams, Robin Williams and Mark Radcliffe
Screenplay by Randi Mayem Singer, Leslie Dixon based on Anne's Fine book "Alias Madame Doubtfire"
Starring: Robin Williams, Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Lisa Jakub, Matthew Lawrence, Mara Wilson, Robert Prosky, Harvey Fierstein
Cinematography: Donald McAlpine
Music: Howard Shore