Sep 11, 2013

#TheList, No. 909: Madame Doubtfire

Guess who didn't know that the 1993 movie Mrs. Doubtfire was based on a children's novel? Me. I feel left out of the loop.

We know the story: parents divorce and put their children in the middle of their many bitter arguments involving custody arrangements. The mother doesn't want to give the father more time with the children. To get his deserved time, the father comes up with the inspired idea to dress up like a woman and apply to be the housekeeper/nanny. Then it all blows up in his face and he's left fighting to prove that his actions make him a great, caring father.

That all translated to the movie.  But the book has many dark moments that didn't quite make it into the movie (in my recollection). For starters, the fights between the parents are intense, lengthy, and at times, downright cruel. The fights about the children often lead to arguments with the children, the father taking no pause to place blame on the children for his predicaments.  Then there are the instances when the father daydreams and/or mimes about killing his front of the children. For example: when he inspires himself to clean by imagining he's mopping up his ex's blood. Big ol' yikes.  It's made clear that they aren't the portrait of a happy go lucky family.

I wasn't a fan of the novel; the father's violent tendencies really disagreed with me. However, I respect that it didn't try to Parent Trap the divorced couple.  The book isn't about bringing them back together; it's about realistically (minus the cross-dressing) depicting what it's like for children of divorced families and how parents need to readjust with their children's interests as the big picture.

One last thing. Let's take a minute and examine the book cover for the edition I read:

It's a little blurry, but it looks like Adam Sandler in drag. So I'm fairly certain that this cover foreshadowed Jack and Jill.

1 comment:

  1. Well, you're not the last person to know that Mrs Doubtfire was based on a children's book. The parts of the book you describe are pretty dark. I've no doubt that RObin Williams could have pulled that off with his wacky brand of humor, but unless there's some context for it in the book, that's definitely grim.