Monday 1 February 2010

Guilty Pleasures: Mrs. Doubtfire

Writing last week's article made me realise that there are hobbies and favourites of every person that don't fit in necessarily with their normal tastes. Whether it be the movie that everyone else says "What the hell?" to when you say it's one of your favourites, to the game that you'll play endlessly when others are enjoying the latest online shooter. Here, then, I present you with just one of my guilty pleasures.

Mrs. Doubtfire

Judge me all you want for this one, but I don't really care. The inescapable fact of the matter is that Robin Williams is a funny guy at the best of times. Although he's fallen into the Steve Martin camp of 'actors who should choose their roles a little more selectively sometimes', because to be fair I'm sure they make enough from their movie roles to not have to take every single script they like, Robin Williams' talent as an entertainer is not to be trifled with. As a stand-up comedian he was phenomenal, and as proven by his return show in Broadway in 2002, he's not lost any of that talent.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this movie, Robin Williams plays Daniel Hillard, a talented voiceover actor who unfortunately is cursed with an argumentative personality when it comes to following orders, which leads him to get fired (for what is clearly not the first time). Through an ill-advised birthday party for his son, he and his wife (Sally Field) suddenly find themselves in the midst of a hostile divorce.

However, he can't be without his kids having spent his entire life being a devoted father, and so decides that the only way to spend more time with them is to dress himself up as an elderly woman named Mrs. Doubtfire in order to fill a vacant housekeeper's position advertised by his now ex-wife. He has to keep up his charade as well as establish himself as a hirable full-time worker in order to keep custody of his kids.

So why, then, is this so high on my list of favourites, even going so far as to be worthy of consideration as one of The Greatest Movies I Ever Watched? The answer is simple.

Ever watched a movie that's billed as a comedy, and that does nothing whatsoever to try and be anything but amusing? If so, you'll understand the frustration I speak of when I say that it's one of the most unfulfilling movies to watch, simply because generally if I want to have a good laugh there's other means from speaking to friends to watching Take Me Out on ITV on a Saturday night.

Seriously, I was GLAD to go to A&E the Saturday just gone, because the alternative was to sit through more Saturday Night TV. Relax by the way, a chest infection: nothing more serious than that. One plus is that I now understand what dyspnoea is.

Shortness of breath, by the way.

Anyway, back to the movie. Some of my favourite comedy movies are those with a good story framework running in the background. In the case of Mrs. Doubtfire, the story is a simple one of parents (Williams and Sally Field) divorcing, and a father who'll go to any lengths to be with his kids because he loves them so much. True, this should in all fairness score a 'Wensleydale' on the Cheese-O-Meter, but at the same time the serious elements of this film are done so convincingly that you'd swear the actors in the film were all related in the same way as the characters they portray in the film.

From the arguments that Robin Williams and Sally Field have to how irritated he gets when his visits with his children are cut short, the realism in this film is one of the most endearing things about it. Of course, the film Mrs. Doubtfire can hardly be considered as completely serious in terms of subject matter, but even this stuff is done particularly well.

My personal favourite scenes in this movie involves the ex-wife's new beau, played in an awesome turn by former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan, from the first scene that the two characters meet properly, with Williams obviously under the guise of Mrs. Doubtfire. Some dialogue highlights include the interchange around 1:12 in the below trailer involving accents and tans, as well as the entire health club swimming pool scene.

Ultimately, my love for this movie largely stems from the fact that it's one of those movies that you have to pay keen attention to, for fear that you'll miss a fantastic line from an out-of-shot Robin Williams. One of those movies that gets overlooked as a classic (and with only a 64% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it's obviously not for everyone) but one of my favourite movies of all time simply for the performances of all concerned.

Plus one Christmas Eve, it was on TV when the family was having an Indian takeaway, and the guy at the restaurant gave us a free bottle of wine. Awesome.

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A cult classic is reborn to haunt a new generation...

A true Aussie horror cult classic and one of the most memorable movies of New Wave of Australian Cinema, Colin Egglestone's atmospheric 1978 shocking Long Weekend gets a contemporary makeover courtesy of director Jamie Blanks and the original film's screen writer Everett de Roche.

Coming to DVD on 8th February as a two-disc Ultimate Edition, this new version of Long Weekend stars Jim "Jesus" Caviezel and Claudia Karvan, and cranks the chilling eco-horror theme to the max, producing that rare thing in cinema - a remake that is as good as, and arguably scarier and more effective than, the original.

When unhappily married at recently estranged city couple Peter and Carla set off for a long weekend camping in a remote but picturesque spot on Australia's North Coast with Peter's friend Luke and his girlfriend, they are hoping that a few days of sun, surf and solitude will help them heal their marital wounds. After getting lost in the dark and spending an uncomfortable night in their car, Peter and Carla awake to find themselves parked mere yards from their intended destination and, despite the mysterious non-arrival of Luke and his partner, set up camp. In stereotypical city folk style they immediately begin to show a complete disregard for their beautiful, untouched environment by nonchantly discarding rubbish, breaking glass, chopping live trees for firewood and taking pot shots at the wildlife.

As the weekend progresses and their personal relationship deteriorates ever further, they become increasingly aware of an unseen, almost malevolent force of nature acting against them. But are the bizarre occurences they witness merely conincidental events whose effects are heightened by the couple's isolation or is something else at work?

A highly effective shocker that topically pits man against nature in a deceivingly beautiful setting, Long Weekend comes to DVD boasting a host of extra features that include an exclusive interview with screenwriter Everett De Roche.

The two-disc Long Weekend will be released on DVD (£17.99) by Showbox Home Entertainment on Monday 8th February.

Thanks to our friends at Showbox Home Entertainment, we've got two copies of Long Weekend to give away! For your chance of winning one, send us an e-mail to with your name and postal address before midday on Monday 8th February (UK time). The first two names drawn out of the electronic hat will win free copy!

1 comment:

  1. I think 'Mrs. Doubtfire' is undeniably a classic. It works so well on so many levels. It's also My Lovely FiancĂ©e™'s all-time favourite movie, so if I said anything bad about it, I'd probably never get the chance to start referring to her as My Lovely Wife™.