Testimonials to the talent and generosity of Robin Williams still dominate the media coverage of his unfortunate death. As so many commentators have pointed out, he was one of the most versatile actors of his generation. Yesterday, this column reviewed “Insomnia,” which features Williams in a dramatic role. But, he was best-known for comedic performances. One of his most well-known films was “Mrs. Doubtfire,” from 1993.
“Mrs. Doubtfire,” like “Tootsie” and “Some Like It Hot,” requires its male lead to spend a great deal of screen time impersonating a woman. In it, Williams plays Daniel Hillard, a struggling actor who is skilled at impersonations. A devoted father, he throws a big birthday party for one of his kids, which becomes a disaster as a result of his ambitious but poor planning. This debacle ultimately ends his already struggling relationship with his wife, Miranda (played by Sally Field). At a custody hearing, Miranda, who is the chief bread-winner of the family, is awarded full custody of their children. Daniel is profoundly unhappy about losing contact with his children. When he learns Miranda is looking for a housekeeper to watch over the kids, he enlists his brother (played by Harvey Fierstein), a makeup artist, to design a costume for him to become a female, Mrs. Doubtfire. Daniel gets the job, and Miranda finds that she likes her new housekeeper. She also has a new boyfriend, Stu (played by Pierce Brosnan), much to the dismay of Daniel.
“Mrs. Doubtfire” is a very funny movie. It features many good scenes of Daniel struggling to keep his makeup and costume from being destroyed.
Robin Williams is excellent in the lead role. As Mrs. Doubtfire, he is a very convincing woman. He is also effective as Daniel, who loves his kids but makes a lot of bad decisions. Sally Field is equally effective as Miranda, who is more responsible.
“Mrs. Doubtfire” is a must-see for any Robin Williams fan.