Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) is an out-of-work voice actor. Miranda (Sally Field) has reached the end of her patience with their marriage due to his irresponsibility. Since Daniel has no steady source of income (as Miranda was the main breadwinner of the family), Miranda gets primary custody of their three children, 14-year-old Lydia (Lisa Jakub), 12-year-old Chris (Matthew Lawrence) and 5-year-old Natalie (Mara Wilson) and Daniel has visitation rights limited to Saturday evenings. The news is crushing to Daniel, who adores his children.

When Daniel learns Miranda intends to place an advertisement for a housekeeper, he requests to pick them up from school and spend time with them. The children are receptive, but Miranda nixes the idea. Daniel sabotages the ad Miranda wrote, changing the two phone numbers, so that he can be the only one who can call Miranda. He calls Miranda several times, disguising his voice while pretending to be various unsuitable applicants. He finally presents the perfect applicant: a 60-year-old widow from England with years of experience, giving the name “Mrs. Doubtfire” after reading the news headline “Police Doubt Fire Was Accidental”. With the cosmetics skills of his brother (Harvey Fierstein), a makeup artist, his brother’s partner, and his own acting talent, Daniel goes to the Hillard residence as Euphegenia Doubtfire. He uses his knowledge of his family’s passions, bringing up storytelling to his youngest daughter Natalie and soccer to Chris, and so is quickly offered the job. As Mrs. Doubtfire, Daniel is able to see his children every day, giving him the opportunity to be the firm father figure that he wasn’t formerly. He initially has the children doing chores and homework, but still finds time to join them in their favorite activities, including reading stories, soccer, and bike rides. The difference shows in the children, and Miranda remarks that something about Mrs. Doubtfire is very familiar.

Daniel goes through a series of mishaps, including igniting his fake breasts on a stove when cooking dinner and attempting to stall his ex-wife’s relationship with Stuart Dunmeyer (Pierce Brosnan), her new boyfriend. One day, Stuart invites Miranda, Mrs. Doubtfire and the kids to come swimming with him at a fancy resort pool. When Stuart criticizes the children’s father by calling him a loser, Daniel (as Mrs. Doubtfire) secretly throws a lime at his head, then blames it on the bar staff, claiming it was a ‘run by fruiting’ because of Stuart’s alleged failure to tip them.

Daniel’s cover is blown when Chris walks in on him standing at the toilet, urinating like a man; he then explains the situation to the two elder children, as Natalie wouldn’t be able to keep such a big secret. Both children are happy to have their father back in their lives and agree to maintain the pretense. Daniel’s double life ends when his two personalities are forced to come together. The CEO of the television studio, Jonathan Lundy (Robert Prosky), where Daniel works as a shipping clerk, sees him clowning with toy dinosaurs and is impressed enough to schedule a dinner meeting to hear his ideas. Miranda then invites Mrs. Doubtfire to dinner with Stuart and the family, at the exact same time and place as Daniel’s business dinner. Daniel cannot cancel on either, so he changes clothes in the bathroom while going back and forth between his boss and his family, progressively getting more and more drunk and confused. Intending to get revenge on Stuart, Daniel sneaks into the restaurant kitchen and adds cayenne pepper to Stuart’s prepared dish of jambalaya, to which Stuart is allergic. Upon consuming his food, Stuart begins to choke, forcing a guilty Daniel (as Mrs. Doubtfire) to perform abdominal thrusts on him to avert his death. Stuart is saved, but Daniel is exposed: during a particularly rough thrust, Daniel’s mask is partially ripped off. Miranda is horrified, then furious, to see that her housekeeper and her ex-husband are one and the same.

In family court, Daniel acts as his own attorney and confesses his need to be with his children, but the judge, although feeling sympathy for Daniel and realizing his need to be with his children, finds Daniel’s behavior somewhat disturbing, and custody is awarded solely to Miranda, which only grieves her even more. Furthermore, Daniel’s visitation rights are further restricted, as the judge only allows him to see his children with supervision from a court liaison, as well as ordering him to seek psychological counseling. Miranda and the children all miss Daniel very badly, and one day they see Aunt Euphegenia’s House, a new children’s TV show starring Daniel as Mrs. Doubtfire. This evidence leads Miranda to renegotiate the terms of custody with Daniel and establish a joint custody arrangement. Miranda will not seek a housekeeper/caretaker while she is at work in the afternoons, instead arranging for the children to spend that time with Daniel. The film concludes with Daniel picking up his kids, and Miranda smiling while watching an episode of Aunt Euphegenia’s House, featuring advice to children of divorced parents, saying that no matter what type of family living arrangement children have, love will maintain the bond.

Starring – Robin Williams, Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein
Director – Chris Columbus.
Screenplay – Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon based on a novel by Anne Fine.

Processing your request, Please wait....

Leave a Reply