Cinerama: Mrs Doubtfire

Posted: September 11, 2009 in Cinerama

Mrs Doubtfire

By Mike Derderian

It is an unjust world the one we are living in—and after a hectic week of revelations, it is by far a more trivial one, not worth the arguing too. With Rainbow’s lyrics, “Look away from the sea; I can take you anywhere; spend a vision with me; a chase with the wind,” stuck in my head, the world didn’t get any better either.

Lately my life’s lyrics and visions are of the poverty and pain that I see, hear and taste in some of Amman’s suburbia as I roam its streets glancing at children with no great expectations—God’s stray angels who come smiling, trying and hoping to attain your sympathy as they wipe your windshield and beg for shillings in return. Some drivers are kind enough to indulge in a friendly conversation with these children giving them some money, while other “superior beings” mockingly call them names and even snarl at them, not knowing the amount of suffering they undergo in their wasted lives.

A few weeks ago—and just when I thought my heart had turned into stone, shunning not only the painful heartbeats induced by those children, but the whole sympathy word out of my cardiovascular dictionary—a man standing next to a shawerma stand offered me a heart. Pulling it out of a plastic bag that was filled with dozens of sweet colorful hearts; I couldn’t help myself but smile. Was it out of pain or out of hope or simply God’s way of reminding me that no matter what I do I will always have a heart.

Just like Robin Williams in the 1993 Mrs Doubtfire, the heart vendor managed to turn my sourpuss of a face to a smiling one and this could happen to anybody; however, the chances of you bumping into a man with a pouch full of hearts are very minimal, so renting Williams’ hilarious two hour and five minuets film would be the next best thing.

Directed by Chris Columbus, this non-stop comedy with a great cast of actors—Mr. Comedy himself (Williams), Sally Field, Lisa Jakub, Mattew Lawerance, Mara Wilson, Robert Prosky and playing Stuart “Stu” Dunmeyer was Pierce Brosnan, who later gained prominence as James Bond in the ‘007’ movies—was one of the best films produced during the nineties.

Mrs Doubtfire is the story of a vocal actor, Daniel Hillard (Williams), who is trying to hold on to his family as his wife Miranda (Field) files for divorce and the full custody of their children. Hillard’s wife won the case on the grounds of him not having a steady income, since he used to get fired all the time for his reckless, defiant and childish attitude (strictly attributed to his job, let me see you go around acting normal if you had a fulltime job as a person who impersonates cartoon voices).

Not being discouraged by the court’s sentence, Daniel, however, is determined to do anything to stay as close as he can to his three children, even if it means disguising himself as an adorable old English lady called Mrs Doubtfire after knowing that his wife wants a nanny for the kids.

Daniel gets the job after calling Miranda and imitating the voices of disturbed, non-English-speaking persons applying for the job. Now he has one problem? He needs to be a woman.

Thanks to the makeup and costume special effects—the body-like suit of sixty-year old woman and excellent facial makeup that took about 41 hours each day for Williams to wear—the funny man turned into and adorable lovable lady.

Knowing his long history in stand up and facial-vocal comedy, Williams’ style of maneuvering the disguise provided the film with hilarious scenes, especially, when he burns his artificial chest and soaks his face into a whip cream cake after losing his mask during a visit by a stiff social worker.

The funniest scene was when he was housecleaning and dancing to the tunes of James Brown’s ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’ imitating one of Jimmie Hendrix’s guitar playing sequences using a broom. Imagine a real old lady doing that, well in this film you will not only see it, but you’ll love it too.

Despite the movie being categorized as a comedy, there were moments when Columbus tried to send a message for divorced parents, whom blinded by the spiteful clashes of a divorce fail to notice the harm they inflect on their own children. The film shows us how their three children Lydie (Jakub), Chris (Lawerance) and Nattie (Wilson) grow fond of the lady who provides them with the paternal love they lack.

Now with Miranda being available, Stuart (Brosnan), an old friend of hers, tries to rekindle their past, a task that will prove hellish with Doubtfire in the house. Jealous of Stuarts’ wooing of his ex, Daniel/Mrs Doubtfire funnily trashes Stu with everything you could imagine. Breaking his Mercedes’ headpiece, talking dirty to him using witty words and spiking his dinner with pepper, are all part of the funny elements entwined within the social message of this 100 percent family film that proves how a man can dress up as an old lady and get away with it as long as he has the heart to do it.

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