Mrs. Doubtfire Review

While based on a novel, it’s hard to believe Mrs. Doubtfire wasn’t born on a single concept: Robin Williams in drag. Williams charisma, energy, and acting skills are in full force in Mrs. Doubtfire, easily one of the actor’s best films. It’s hard not to like such a warm, harmless comedy.

Yes, the concept is a stretch. Robin Williams, desperate to see his children more often during a custody battle, dresses up as an old English woman and poses as a housekeeper. Conveniently, his brothers are Hollywood make-ups artists, creating a suit that’s incredibly easy to swap in and out of. As contrived as that is, it’s never a thought as you’re pulled into the film by Williams’ charm and some clever scenarios.

Even at two hours, Mrs. Doubtfire never goes off course. Laughs are increasingly common, none of them fall flat, and despite some priceless sexual references that will fly over their heads, the kids will be more than engaged. Williams is Mrs. Doubtfire, and can turn on and off at will as the film needs him too.

Surprisingly, the film isn’t just about laughs and Williams looking goofy. At its heart, there’s a story about a man who simply wants to be with his kids. Even as a typical (albeit somewhat crazy) father, Williams succeeds. There’s genuine emotion in his role, certainly not common from the actor at that point in his career. It’s a wonderful balance usually not a critical part of light-hearted comedies. It’s a refreshing change.

Along with Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan supporting him, Williams brings Mrs. Doubtfire to life in a near classic comedy. Short of not liking Williams himself, it’s hard to imagine what faults this movie has. It’s a harmless story of a man who wants to be with his kids, only that man happens to be a little too eccentric. It’s all in good fun.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

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Someone over at Fox must love that edge enhancement button, because this transfer is loaded with it. Artificial sharpening is noticeable everywhere, but every long shot is by far the worst case scenario. Power lines, houses, people, sidewalks, and cars are loaded with ugly, nasty halos. There’s no excuse.

Flesh tones appear a bit pasty, and inconsistent grain is undoubtedly a sign of some DNR application. Detail can come through, especially in clothes. Facial detail is less noticeable, although a few scenes do shine. The overall tone is soft with a few scenes appearing sharper than the rest. Artifacting can be seen in a few shots, particularly against the solid color walls in the Hillard home.

Video ★★☆☆☆ 

A simple family driven comedy isn’t going to offer a bombastic DTS-HD Master track. Aside from a few notable moments of music being cranked up in the film to fill the sound field, there’s little activity to speak of. This is a front-loaded effort that’s quite clear and crisp in the dialogue department. Surround use is non-existent.

Audio ★★★☆☆ 

Aside from a missing commentary from director Chris Columbus, this is a complete edition of Mrs. Doubtfire. Deleted scenes, 19 of them to be specific, run over 30 minutes. A few alternate takes are included as well. Aging Gracefully is a look back on the film with Williams and Columbus. It’s a fine piece, running almost 14 minutes.

A section on the animated sequence used at the start of the film has interviews with Chuck Jones, pencil tests, and the entire sequence in full without clips from the movie. Two featurettes on the make-up include extensive tests and behind-the-scenes footage of the application. Nearly 40 minutes of improv follow, culled from only seven different scenes. Two featurettes used to promote the film back in ’93 are stashed inside the promotional section of the disc. Finally, there is a variety of galleries to view.

Extras ★★★★☆ 

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