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YMMV / Mrs. Doubtfire

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  • Adaptation Displacement: Of the British young adult book Madame Doubtfire (Or Alias Madame Doubtfire in the US.). Notable differences include:
    • The parents are already divorced at the start of the story.
    • Miranda is a much meaner, bitchier character. Daniel is no saint either, though, as he fantasizes about ways to kill front of the kids.
    • Daniel has a passion for gardening. In the end he becomes not the host of a kid's show but Miranda's new gardener.
    • All three kids see through the Mrs. Doubtfire disguise, even Christopher, though it takes him a little longer.
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    • Mrs. Doubtfire doesn't wear a latex mask and padding. She wears a turban. This is apparently enough to fool Miranda.
    • Rather than learn housekeeping skills, Daniel forces the children to clean the house by threatening how they'll never see him again if he's found out.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Daniel Hillard — loving father who desperately wants to raise his kids, or creepily obsessed stalker that commits a series of crimes?
    • Even lampshaded a bit in-movie, both by Daniel himself ("What am I doing here? This is beyond obsession.") and by the judge, once the gig is up, as the reason for ordering supervision during Daniel's time with the kids.
      • In some ways, this also applies to Miranda. Is she a mature woman who has put up with Daniel's antics over the years and has finally reached her breaking point, or is she a cold detached woman more interested in her career than her family? Her apparent mooning over her old flame prior to telling Daniel it's over doesn't help her cause any.
      • Indeed, leading to wondering over the interpretation of whether she's sincerely at the end of her rope with a situation that's bad for her and her children, or just looking for an excuse to dump her current husband for her more attractive, more successful, and less silly ex?
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  • Broken Base: Daniel vs Miranda. Either this movie is about an immature Manchild losing his kids to a responsible wife who can't put up with him anymore, or it's a loving father having his kids taken from him by an uptight workaholic, or a little bit of both. The film itself even straddles this line with the children; they don't get along with Miranda nearly as well as they do with Daniel and are upset when she comes to pick them up from his place, but on the flipside, they're aware that Daniel has to grow up and seriously needs to get his act together.
  • Designated Villain: Stuart is the closest thing the film has to a villain, and to all evidence, he's a perfectly Nice Guy who genuinely cares for Miranda and her kids. Daniel resents him for stealing his family's affections, but he was already divorced with limited custody rights before Stuart entered the picture. In the original screenplay, he was supposed to turn out to be a jerk, and Miranda would have dumped him and reconciled with Daniel, but it was decided to portray the reality that divorce is usually permanent, and parents moving on to new relationships isn't a bad thing.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Daniel quits a kid's cartoon because it doesn't condemn smoking harshly enough for his liking. When you see how devoted he is to his children, it makes him look a lot more responsible as a parent.
    • People commonly criticize the opening scene for being unrealistic, explaining that they find a cartoon in the 90s with a smoking character to be outlandish. But it's likely that David was hired for a remastering of the cartoon from a time where smoking in a cartoon was commonplace, especially considering his talent for impersonation.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Daniel gets his titular alias from a newspaper headline saying "Police Doubt Fire Was Accidental". In January 2015, the house used for the Hillard home got attacked by an arsonist. After Williams' death, the house was serving as an impromptu memorial as well.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: After Robin Williams' death, Mara Wilson paraphrased her most famous line from the film, saying of all the younger people who either worked with him or were fans "We're all his goddamn kids too."
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • It won't be the last time Pierce Brosnan played a man who was outsmarted by an elderly British lady.
    • In MAD Magazine's parody of this movie, there's a panel where the judge in the final hearing asks, "And now for the next case: Should the career of Pierce Brosnan be declared legally dead?"
    • In the "Pudgy and Grunge" cartoon that Daniel is recording for at the beginning of the film, Pudgy at one point says, "Eat your heart out, Meryl Streep" after Grunge has taken him from his cage. And then later, when Grunge is planning on cooking Pudgy, he says "Eat your heart out, Julia Child". Well, guess who Meryl Streep goes on to portray 16 years after this film's release?
    • Billy Madison's two best friends are also named Jack and Frank, and they're very close.
    • Also, the restaurant scene where Stu is choking on the hot cayenne pepper, which he's allergic to, that Mrs. Doubtfire put on his meal (but didn't know about his allergy and was so horrified by this, he ended up saving his life) becomes this once you learn that Pierce Brosnan once worked as a professional fire eater.
    • The film features Robin Williams and Sally Field as a married couple. Williams went on to play three different Presidents of the United States (two real, one fictional) in Man of the Year, Night at the Museum, and The Butler, while Field went on to play the First Lady of the United States in Lincoln.
    • Harvey Fierstein was a Drag Queen early in his career. Here, Harvey Fierstein helps a man dress as a woman.
    • When Daniel puts on the "old Jewish woman" makeup, he and Frank sing a bit of "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" from Fiddler on the Roof. Harvey Fierstein would eventually star in the musical a decade later.
  • It Was His Sled: The back of the original book cover features a summary of the story's plot, but actually makes no mention about Daniel and Mrs. Doubtfire being the same person (only stating that Miranda has hired a peculiar nanny to watch over them). This suggests that Doubtfire really being Daniel was meant to be a surprise to the reader. However, most people are likely more familiar with the film adaptation, so very likely, anyone who reads the book will already know going in what's happening.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Daniel's predicament could have been avoided if he weren't so immature. Despite that, he does genuinely live for his children and it does seem unfair from his point of view that they'd be with their career-obsessed mother more than him.
    • Likewise, Miranda. For all her flaws, she wants to provide for the family and raise her children well, and if she's harsh with Daniel, it's because she's understandably frustrated with his immaturity. She's fully aware of how she's changed for the worse over the course of her marriage, and is quite unhappy about it.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: This film, though hilarious, is one of the most realistic depictions of divorce in cinema (Kramer vs. Kramer is another possible member of this category). Daniel and Miranda are both presented as having valid reasons to separate (Miranda is frustrated by Daniel's chronic lack of work and carefree attitude, while Daniel is angered by her uptight nature and tendency to put her job first); we get to see both sides of the issue, which prevents the audience from making snap judgments. The end of the film becomes even more direct with this trope: Daniel and Miranda don't get back together, and Mrs. Doubtfire, on her new TV show, explains that sometimes, divorce can be a good thing, especially if there are children involved (she implies that staying together for kids can actually be more damaging). Depicting divorce as a positive is unexpected, and the movie does drive it home repeatedly, but it's a message that needs to be shared, especially to children. In the same speech mentioned above, Mrs. Doubtfire also lists several non-traditional family patterns (foster parents, living with other relatives, etc.), and assures children that the names don't matter—family is about love. Subtle? No. Extremely important and valid? Yes.
    • It's especially poignant when you learn that the almost-used script had Miranda dumping Stu and getting back together with Daniel. Sally Field and Robin Williams, both divorcees themselves, objected to this ending, pointing out that it might give kids false hope about their parents reconciling. That protest helped convince the producers to go with the "original" ending.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Even though he was saying it out of his jealousy over Miranda dating Stuart, Daniel (as Mrs. Doubtfire) had a perfectly legitimate point when he tells her it's too soon for her to start introducing her kids to a new man in their lives when they're still trying to deal with the divorce.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: While he doesn't come off as completely unsympathetic, it's not that hard to understand why Miranda is so rude towards Daniel. Daniel is rather immature and irresponsible, and if he has been more serious (like his Mrs. Doubtfire persona), it's entirely possible that the divorce would have never happened. People also tend to forget the he's the primary cause of divorce since Miranda couldn't tolerate his immaturity anymore.
  • Values Dissonance: One of Daniel's personas in his invoked Terrible Interviewees Montage is a trans woman, and Miranda immediately hangs up in horror upon hearing it, which comes off as transphobic today. If they even attempted the setup today, the turnoff would likely be emphasized as the persona's extreme disassociation with males, instead of her background itself.
    • Similarly, the scene where the kids catch Daniel as Mrs. Doubtfire peeing standing up and freaking out, acting as if she is going to molest them. Some airings actually bleep Chris's use of the term "he-she" in this scene.
    • And the unseen social worker who monitors Daniel's visits after the deception is discovered, as he puts it, "like I'm some kind of a deviant".
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: And featuring Harvey Fierstein as Robin Williams' brother! Wait, what?

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