Fuck Mrs Doubtfire
Written By Solaris
Did anyone see the movie Mrs Doubtfire? It was a pretty popular film when it came out, mainly because it starred Robin Williams, who at that time was well-known with kids because of his roles in Hook and as the voice of the genie in Aladdin. All my friends' parents took them to see the movie and they all thought it was hilarious, so I begged Mum and Dad to take me. It was a good movie, but for some reason it had a lingering impact on my young brain. I don't know why, but I think about it pretty often, and I've discovered that the film pisses me off more with each passing year.
For those of you who don't know or who have forgotten, Mrs Doubtfire is about a man named Daniel who is a voice actor whose wife leaves him when he quits his job (he's portrayed as a fairly irresponsible man). Since she has a stable job, she gets legal custody of the children, and he gets visitation rights. When his wife advertises for a housekeeper, he disguises himself as a 60-year-old woman and applies for the position. He gets the job and is finally able to spend time with his kids and be the firm father figure he wasn't before. Of course, this facade leads to all kinds of humourous situations (Daniel setting his fake breasts on fire is absolutely hysterical!), but eventually proves too much to maintain and his wife finds out in the most dramatic manner possible. Miranda (Daniel's soon-to-be-ex-wife) is infuriated at this revelation and when the final divorce hearing comes to court, he is referred to psychological counselling. Fortunately, Daniel has managed to secure a job playing his female persona (Mrs Doubtfire) on a kids TV show, and this leads Miranda to assume a less adversarial attitude with her former husband once she realises just how much he has grown and learned through his experience as their housekeeper.
Well, there's a nice, bland summary of the plot. So, why did it leave me with such an impression? For starters, it was the first time I had ever seen divorce portrayed in any kind of media. In my house, growing up, divorce was spoken of in hushed tones. One of my friends'parents had "separated" (not divorced), and even that was something that was not considered polite to bring up in conversation. Also, there was something that never quite made sense in the plot and it took me years to put my finger on it. Once I worked it out, I was really annoyed. Let me explain...
Near the start of the film, Daniel is voicing a cartoon parrot who is being chased and then lights up a cigar and smokes it luxuriously. Daniel decides to continue voicing the character while he smokes, saying that he "might die of beak cancer". The show's producers call him on this and when he complains that he doesn't want his character used to encourage children to smoke, they dismiss his concerns. He feels he has no choice but to quit, so he walks out. Here's my problem: That was a damn courageous thing to do. It shows Daniel as an individual of deep moral conviction. But his wife Miranda? She just gets stroppy that he's lost another job. Instead of telling him she's proud of him, she berates him. Gee, who wouldn't want a strong woman like her as a wife?
During the first part of the film, we find out that Miranda has eyes for her boss (played by Pierce Brosnan). The mere mention of his name is enough to set her heart a'flutter. Seriously, she probably wets her panties when he walks into the room. You can practically hear her thinking "Oh! He's so rich and successful and handsome! I have to find a way to ditch my loser husband!" She gets her excuse when Daniel books a petting zoo to come to their house for his young daughter's birthday. She absolutely flies off the rocker, and to say Daniel is shaken is an understatement. As a young kid, I was shocked that anyone could so casually dismiss a marriage. I mean, my parents yelled sometimes, but no fight was so serious that they couldn't make ammends. "What the hell is her problem?" was my first thought.
Since Miranda is the only one with a stable job, she gets custody of the kids in a court hearing, and Daniel gets visitation rights on Saturdays. So what does she do? Well, she drops them off an hour late to see him, and tries to pick them up an hour early. Daniel says to his kids over dinner, "You're my goddamn kids too!" You know what? He's right, and that makes Miranda a bitch. Can't have the real father interfering in her new relationship now can we? The way she acts to him is like she wishes he would just drop dead so she can open her legs for the new, handsomer, richer man she's managed to latch on to without interference.
Throughout the movie, Miranda treats Daniel like absolute garbage. His solution to the problem of finding a way to spend more time with his kids is to disguise himself and gain employment as Miranda's new housekeeper. She immediately takes his female persona into her confidence, but she can't heap enough contempt on Daniel. When she finds out that her ex-husband and housekeeper are the same person, she throws one of the biggest on-screen tantrums I have ever seen. Miranda doesn't just dislike her soon-to-be-ex husband. She loathes him with a passion. She hates his guts. At no point during the film that I recall does she ever behave as if he had ever been important to her.
Here's the key point in the plot that bothered me for so many years. During the divorce hearing, the judge calls out Daniel's bizarre behaviour and recommends him for psychological counselling. Miranda is stunned and horrified... Wait, what? Why in God's name is she horrified? She's just spent most of the movie trying to get rid of him! She's got a new man and seems content to leave her kids almost exclusively in the hands of her housekeeper! Why the FUCK would she care if he was referred to a psychologist? Heck, given her behaviour during most of the movie, I would have expected a small smirk of triumph! What better outcome could there have been for her? Ex-husband in the loony bin, kids exclusively hers, new man, more money... There is no way I can believe that the character of Miranda could suddenly have such a change of heart.
After seeing all the "growing up" her husband has done once she watches his new show on TV, she decides to renegotiate the terms of their custody arrangements so that her ex-husband will get more time with his kids. The movie ends with a touching message delivered on the TV by Mrs Doubtfire (Daniel dressed up as a 60-year-old woman) about how even if your parents are getting divorced, they still love you. Yes, everything will be awwwright once your ex-wife has a change of heart about having you hauled off to be anal-probed by a bunch of psychologists. No. FUCK Mrs Doubtfire. That ending might be all heartwarming, but it is essentially bullshit. Did the writers realise they had painted themselves into a corner, and then do a little about-face on everything that most of the movie had been setting up?
The logical end to this movie has Daniel deciding to end it all in a dirty hotel room by hanging himself using the linen from the bed. He's been sent to have his head examined, he's had his kids taken away and he's been kicked out of his home. What else do you want to do to screw him over? He goes and kills himself, Miranda is ecstatic and goes on a six-month round-the-world trip with a real man who gets her panties wet and makes tons of dough. She's so busy spreading her legs and spending money for a few years that she fails to notice that her sons are busy getting addicted to drugs and her daughter has become an underage prostitute because she doesn't mind just leaving them to fend for themselves, or in the care of a string of housekeepers she hires. Then (naturally), her rich dickhead finds himself a younger, hotter thing and everything comes crashing back to earth for her and the party is over. The movie ends with her sitting alone at her old house wondering how everything went wrong. What a pile of bullshit they tacked to the end to force a "happy ending".
See kids! Having a bitch for a wife who will divorce your ass as soon as she sees dollar signs is just fine and dandy! That's about the only message I took home from that stupid movie. That, plus seeing Robin Williams run around with his fake breasts on fire was pretty funny...
"The wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct" -- Marcus Tullius Cicero
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