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Film / Mr. Mom

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Mr. Mom is a 1983 American comedy-drama film directed by Stan Dragoti and written by John Hughes about a stay-at-home dad. The film stars Michael Keaton, Teri Garr, Christopher Lloyd, Ann Jillian, Jeffrey Tambor, and Martin Mull.

In the film, Jack Butler (Keaton) loses his job as an engineer at the Ford Motor Company, which gives his wife Caroline (Garr) the opportunity to work as part of an advertising firm. Jack eventually gets used to his new role as a stay-at-home dad taking care of his and Caroline's three children—their two sons, Alex and Kenny, and their daughter, Megan—while Caroline deals with her new boss, Ron Richardson (Mull).

This film provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Ron Richardson
  • Alliterative Title: Mr. Mom
  • Beard of Sorrow: Jack grows one when he realizes he's going to be stuck watching over the kids and the house for a while as his wife goes off to work. He shaves it after he has his Soap Within a Show dream.
  • The Big Race: Ron Richardson hosts a race with himself and his employees as the contestants at his corporate picnics, though Ron always comes out the winner. Jack is challenged to participate in the race, which plays out to a pastiche of the Chariots of Fire theme song.
  • Brick Joke: During a dream sequence, Caroline kills Jack with a pistol to free herself from him. When Ron asks her if it is a '.38' (pistol caliber), she casually says "38, 39, whatever it takes."
  • Bumbling Dad: Really a subversion. Once Jack stops feeling sorry for himself about being unemployed and his wife now being the breadwinner, he gets it together and gets quite good in the role.
  • Chainsaw Good: Jack's first meeting with Ron is when he is wielding a chainsaw and coming into the house with it still running. Played mostly for laughs as Jack makes it look like he's just using it for remodeling the house, though after Ron leaves Jack contemplates using it for "trimming" Ron's mustache.
  • Chippendales Dancers: Where Jack is taken to with his housewife neighbors.
  • Creator Provincialism: Oddly enough, more against Hughes than with him in this case — John was fired and the script was retooled without him for the absurd reason that Universal executives didn't trust a writer who chose to stay in Chicago instead of moving to L.A.
  • A Day in Her Apron: Jack spends quite a long time in his wife's apron.
  • Death by Woman Scorned: Plays out in Jack's Soap Within a Show Imagine Spot. Caroline shoots him, and he scoots over to fit into a pre-drawn Chalk Outline.
  • The Diaper Change: Jack has his hands full changing Megan's diapers after she eats a can of chili, and Alex and Kenny offer no help.
  • Doomed Supermarket Display: Jack's first time going to the grocery store with the kids is... eventful.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: At the end, it is likely that Jack will get his old job back and Caroline will go back to being a housewife. But both of them have demonstrated that she can be a good breadwinner and he is a very good House Husband. So whatever happens in the future, they'll be able to handle it. It's notable that the last shot is of the entire family goofing around and enjoying each other's company on the living room couch.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Jack starts renovating the house and pretends to know what he's doing to impress Ron. When Ron asks him if he's doing the renovations in "two-twenty," Jack clearly has no idea what he's talking about (it's a standard voltage for the wiring). He responds, "Yeah, two-twenty...two-twenty-one. Whatever it takes!" This is, of course, meaningless.
  • Homicide Machines: Meet "Jaws" the vacuum cleaner. Played mostly for laughs as Jack struggles to gain control of it after it starts chasing around Kenny.
  • Honking Arriving Car: At the beginning of the film, Jack sits down for breakfast with his family and has barely enough time for a sip of coffee before a car horn is heard outside the house, which Jack understands is his office carpool heading to work, beckoning his departure.
  • House Husband: Jack Butler starts out as a Fish out of Water, but ends up this at the end of the movie.
  • Ironic Echo: During the Soap Within a Show dream, Ron and Caroline visit Jack at the murder scene and repeat his Feigning Intelligence line, only this time about the caliber of a gun.
  • Male Gaze: Jack gets a look down Joan's shirt when she leans in toward him to show him her hand during a card game.
  • Men Can't Keep House: The major theme of the movie, which Jack ends up proving wrong.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Jack assuming that Caroline is having an affair with her boss Ron, when he attempts to make a family phone call to Caroline and instead Ron ends up picking up the phone while she is in the bathtub relaxing. In actuality, Ron was attempting to hit on Caroline and force her to have sex with him so she could dump Jack and marry him. Jack finds this out after Caroline comes home and prevents him from having an affair with their neighbor Joan, and when Ron shows up at his door with flowers for Caroline, begging for her to return to work.
  • One of the Girls: What Jack ends up after being a househusband, regularly playing poker with the neighborhood moms.
  • Papa Wolf: Jack. Nobody yells at his children and gets away with it. Nobody!
  • Parodies of Fire: During the company picnic which includes a short footrace with everyone wearing diving flippers. True to form, the entire race is shown in slow motion.
  • Security Blanket:
    • Jack's younger son, Kenny, carries around a security blanket, which, after a heartfelt talk with his dad, he ends up discarding.
    • Jack's flannel shirt, which he started wearing after giving up on finding a new job, is his. Caroline says he's worn it so long, it could stand up on its own. In the end, Jack burns it, signifying the end of his depressive state of being a stay-at-home dad.
  • Sexual Extortion: Ron Richardson tries to force Caroline to have sex with him so she could dump Jack and marry him to expand his advertising firm, but Caroline refuses to go along with it, punching Ron in the face and hopping on the next flight back home. Ron shows up at the Butlers' house with flowers to apologize and beg for Caroline to return to work, but Caroline says that she doesn't want to go back to work for him, and Ron's now fearful of her husband.
  • Shoot the Television: Jack kicks the TV set when he suspects his wife of being unfaithful with him while away in LA.
  • Soap Within a Show: Stay at home dad Jack becomes so addicted to soap operas that he starts dreaming of having an affair with his neighbor Joan, with the situation of him, Joan, and his wife Caroline played out like a soap opera. This leads to a situation where Jack almost actually has an affair with Joan around the same time that he assumes that Caroline is having one with Ron (which ends up not being the case) until Caroline comes home and gets Joan out of their bedroom before anything happens.
    • Interestingly enough, when Caroline is getting Joan out of the house, she doesn't realize that Jack, after a moment of temptation, has already decided, quite firmly, not to pursue an affair with Joan. As he says to a mirror, "You're not gonna do anything. Because you, my friend, are in love with your wife."
  • Take a Third Option: The TV repairwoman suggests this at the end, when both Jack and Caroline have job offers, but neither wants to take them. She suggests they both work part time, on alternating days.
  • Training Montage: An Homage Montage aimed no doubt at Rocky has Jack Butler and his housewife neighbors losing weight and fixing up his house to this same tune.
  • Vicious Vac: "Jaws." Almost devours the woobie!
    • A funny subversion later on: after Jack has gotten the hang of doing the household chores, he amuses himself by pretending to bark out orders to Jaws.