Mrs. Doubtfire is a 1993 American comedy-drama film directed by Chris Columbus. It was written for the screen by Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon, based on the novel Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine. Robin Williams, who also served as a co-producer, stars with 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 they have on a family.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Chris Columbus|
|Based on||Alias Madame Doubtfire|
by Anne Fine
|Music by||Howard Shore|
|Edited by||Raja Gosnell|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$441.3 million|
The film was released in the United States on November 24, 1993. It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Robin Williams was awarded the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
It grossed $441.3 million on a $25 million budget, becoming the second-highest-grossing film of 1993 worldwide. Though the film received mixed reviews, it was placed 67th in the American Film Institute's "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" list and 40th on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies of All Time." The original music score was composed by Howard Shore.
Although Daniel Hillard, a freelance voice actor, is a devoted father to his three children, Lydia, Chris, and Natalie, his estranged wife Miranda considers him unreliable. Daniel quits his job after a disagreement over a questionable script and returns home to throw a chaotic birthday party for Chris despite Miranda's objections. This proves to be the final straw for Miranda, who files for divorce. The court grants sole custody of the children to Miranda; shared custody is contingent on whether Daniel finds a steady job and a suitable residence within three months.
As Daniel works to rebuild his life, securing himself an apartment and a new job at a TV station, he learns that Miranda is seeking a housekeeper. He secretly alters her classified ad form, effectively barring any communication between Miranda and potential candidates for the position. Utilizing his voice acting skills, he calls Miranda while posing as a series of undesirable applicants. He finally calls Miranda as a Scottish-accented nanny with strong credentials, whom he names Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire. Miranda is impressed and invites her for an interview. Daniel asks his brother Frank, a makeup artist, and Frank's partner, Jack, to create a Mrs. Doubtfire costume, including a prosthetic mask to make him appear as an older woman.
Miranda hires Mrs. Doubtfire after a successful interview. The children initially struggle under Mrs. Doubtfire's authority but soon come around and thrive, and further, Miranda learns to become closer with her children. Daniel, as Mrs. Doubtfire, learns several household skills as part of the role, further improving himself. However, this creates another barrier for Daniel to see his children, as Miranda has put more trust into Mrs. Doubtfire than him, and she cannot bring herself to dismiss her. One night, Lydia and Chris discover Daniel is Mrs. Doubtfire and, thrilled to have their father back, agree to keep his secret.
While working one day, Daniel is seen by the station's CEO Jonathan Lundy playing with toy dinosaurs on the set of a cancelled children's show. Impressed by his voice acting and imagination, Lundy invites Daniel for a dinner to discuss giving him his own children's show to host. Daniel discovers this is to be on the same place and time as a planned birthday dinner for Miranda by her new boyfriend Stuart Dunmeyer, which Mrs. Doubtfire is expected to attend. Unable to change either appointment, Daniel changes in and out of the Mrs. Doubtfire costume to attend both events, consuming several alcoholic drinks in the process. Daniel eventually becomes drunk and slips up when he accidentally returns to Lundy in his costume. He quickly claims that "Mrs. Doubtfire" is his idea for the show. After overhearing that Stu is allergic to pepper, Daniel sneaks into the kitchen and seasons Stu's order of jambalaya with powdered cayenne pepper. Stu chokes on his dinner, and Daniel, feeling guilty, gives him the Heimlich maneuver as Mrs. Doubtfire. The action causes the prosthetic mask to partially peel off Daniel's face, revealing his identity and horrifying Miranda.
At their next custody hearing, Daniel points out that he has met the judge's requirements, then explains his actions. The judge, while sympathetic to Daniel, is disturbed by his ruse and grants Miranda full custody, further restricting Daniel's rights to supervised Saturday visits. Without Mrs. Doubtfire, Miranda and her children become miserable, acknowledging how much Mrs. Doubtfire improved their lives. They then discover a new children's show called Euphegenia's House which Daniel, as Mrs. Doubtfire, hosts. The show becomes a hit and starts airing across the country.
Miranda visits Daniel on set, admitting that things were better when he was involved, and agrees to change the custody arrangement. Soon after, she and Daniel share joint custody, allowing him to take the children after school, essentially the same way he had done when he was with them as Mrs. Doubtfire. As Daniel takes the kids out, Miranda watches an episode of Euphegenia's House in which Mrs. Doubtfire answers a letter from a young girl whose parents have separated, saying that love makes a family a family, no matter the distance between its members.
- Robin Williams as Daniel Hillard / Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire
- Sally Field as Miranda Hillard
- Pierce Brosnan as Stuart "Stu" Dunmeyer
- Harvey Fierstein as Frank Hillard
- Polly Holliday as Gloria Cheney
- Lisa Jakub as Lydia Hillard
- Matthew Lawrence as Chris Hillard
- Mara Wilson as Natalie "Nattie" Hillard
- Robert Prosky as Mr. Jonathan Lundy
- Anne Haney as Mrs. Sellner
- Scott Capurro as Jack
- Sydney Walker as Bus Driver
- Martin Mull as Justin Gregory
- Terence McGovern as ADR Director Lou
- William Newman as Mr. Sprinkles
- Scott Beach as Judge
Production of the film was in 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 37°47′38.07″N 122°26′10.78″W became a tourist attraction for some time after the film's release. Following Williams' death by suicide on August 11, 2014, the house became an impromptu memorial. 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. Williams later recounted how he used to walk through San Francisco dressed in full makeup and costume as Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire, and on one occasion, visiting a sex shop to buy a large dildo and other toys. The restaurant scene was filmed at Bridges Restaurant & Bar, in Danville, California.
The score was composed, orchestrated, and conducted by Howard Shore.
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 (the 12A certificate did not exist until 2003). 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 to give 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.
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 for home video along with a 12A certificate for cinema release in 2014. On March 4, 2013, the uncut version was released on Blu-ray and downloads in the United Kingdom.
Over thirty minutes of deleted scenes were omitted from the final cut of the film, some of which were featured in the 2008 DVD release of Mrs. Doubtfire called the "Behind-the-Seams Edition." These include an entire subplot featuring Daniel's conflict with his nosy neighbor Gloria Chaney (Polly Holliday) and an extended scene at Bridges restaurant. In 2016 three scenes from the 2008 DVD release, which were also included in the aforementioned 2013 Blu-ray release, gained media attention to much fanfare and praise for Robin Williams. These included a scene where Daniel and Miranda fight at Lydia's spelling bee competition and a confrontation scene with Miranda after Daniel's identity is revealed at the restaurant. He recovers later and comes back home to the family.
The film earned $219,195,243 in North America, along with $222,090,952 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $441,286,195, making it the highest-grossing cross-dressing film. It became the second-highest-grossing film of 1993, behind only Jurassic Park. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 52.6 million tickets in the US.
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). On Rotten Tomatoes, Mrs. Doubtfire has a rating of 72%, based on 50 reviews, with an average rating of 5.77/10. 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." On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 53 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating 'mixed or average reviews'.
In 2001, Mrs. Doubtfire 2 began being developed by Bonnie Hunt, even though Anne Fine had not written any follow-up novels to Alias Madame Doubtfire, 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.
In 2006, in an Newsday interview, Williams said the sequel was indefinitely scrapped. Stating his reasons:
|“||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.||”|
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."
In 2011, Williams said:
In 2014, Chris Columbus stated, in turn:
|“||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. However, after Williams' death in August 2014, plans for a sequel were cancelled.
On January 22, 2015, Entertainment Weekly reported that a musical adaptation of Mrs. Doubtfire was in the works, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by David Zippel, and a book by Harvey Fierstein. Producer Kevin McCollum had previously spoken to the New York Times in 2013 about the 1993 movie's musical prospects, noting that the plot was 'tailored for Broadway audiences'. However, in 2016, Menken told Digital Spy that the project was put on 'creative hiatus', citing changes in the creative team as the problem. Nevertheless in 2018, McCollum revealed that the adaptation was still aiming for a Broadway bow, but with an entirely different creative team which includes Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick composing the score, and John O'Farrell and Karey Kirkpatrick writing the book. Tony Award-winner Jerry Zaks was also announced as the director of the show. In 2019, the musical was cast and the reading will be taking place on May 16 and 17. The cast will include Tony Nominees Rob McClure, Kate Baldwin, Mario Cantone, and Jake Ryan Flynn. No word is set for when the show will premiere. The show will run at the 5th Avenue Theatre from November 26-December 29, 2019 before heading to Broadway.
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