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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that as funny as Mrs. Doubtfire is, it's really about the pain of separation and divorce. Serious issues such as the perception that Daniel is a bad father because he doesn't make a lot of money, and the implied criticism of careerist mother, Miranda, are buried under a lot of padding and jokes. Kids whose families are going through divorce might find this painful in spots (particularly the separations as seen from the parental perspective). Kids who fear separation should not see this until they feel safe and secure. But some kids may find the movie helpful because it lessens feelings of being alone or unique. Expect strong language (including "s--t" and one "f--k") and some drinking.
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What's the story?
In MRS. DOUBTFIRE, loving-but-eccentric dad Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) is devastated when his wife, Miranda (Sally Field) files for a divorce and gets custody of the kids. Regular visits with his three children aren't enough, so when he hears that Miranda is looking for a nanny/housekeeper, he gets his make-up artist brother (Harvey Fierstein) to transform him into a matronly old woman. Posing as the veddy proper Mrs. Iphegenia Doubtfire, Daniel gets the position and quickly wins over the kids. But his double-life ruse gets complicated when Miranda starts dating the dashing, debonair Stu (Pierce Brosnan).
Is it any good?
This is one of those great movies that grow better over time. Director Chris Columbus uses the hilarious Robin Williams to his fullest. Williams clowns around, talks a mile a minute, drops pop culture references, and does vocal impersonations that might have little to do with the story but that leaven what would otherwise be too painful and poignant for some kids.
What raises Mrs. Doubtfire above other movies about separation is the care it takes in dealing with real human problems. Though it provides a basis for a comedy, the issue of divorce and custody is treated seriously. Irresponsible Daniel grows from the experience of looking at the world from a woman's point of view.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of divorce in families. Do you think Mrs. Doubtfire deals with the topic realistically?
Why is Daniel seen as too irresponsible to have custody? Do your kids think that's fair? What about the working mom -- does the fact that she works full time and makes more money than Daniel make her a "better" parent?
- In theaters: August 27, 1993
- On DVD or streaming: August 27, 2000
- Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Robin Williams, Sally Field
- Director: Chris Columbus
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Character strengths: Gratitude, Self-control
- Run time: 125 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some sexual references
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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