2017’s cinema has felt like a wholesale reboot of the 1990s. In fact, this isn’t even the first 90s reboot starring The Rock I’ve reviewed. Fortunately, I can report The Rock’s reimagining of the classic family comedy Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) really honors the memory of the late Robin Williams. I think it’s safe to say that if Robin were alive today, he would gladly perform a cameo role in Mrs. Doubtfire (2017).
If you’re familiar with the original Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), you’ll recognize the plot of Mrs. Doubtfire but with a few tweaks to suit The Rock’s unique talents. Daniel Hillard (The Rock) is a freelance bodybuilder in Phoenix, Arizona. Though a devoted father to his children Lydia, Chris, and Natalie, his wife considers him unreliable. One day, while having mo-cap sensors attached to his body for use in a video game, Daniel learns that the video game encourages kids to play football for recreation. Realizing that his body is being used to introduce kids to a dangerous sport that causes head trauma, Daniel quits in a fit of rage.
Daniel drives home to throw a lavish birthday party for his large son Chris (Rico Rodriguez) despite his wife’s objections. The neighbors complain about all the noise from the party. Daniel responds by throwing his body through their living room window and tackling the neighbors to the ground, creating a situation with the police. Daniel’s wife files for divorce, and the judge gives sole custody of the children to her due to Daniel’s pending charges for assault, but tells Daniel if he can reform his ways joint custody may be a possibility in the future.
Daniel hires a great lawyer to get his neighbors’ assault charges dismissed, and learns that his ex-wife is seeking a nanny to watch over the children. Daniel gets help from his bodybuilding buddies to create the Mrs. Doubtfire persona, injecting him with hormones to make him more feminine. Daniel also has his brother use his hacker skills to see who else is applying for the job, and then physically intimidates all the other applicants to prevent them from showing up for the interview.
Mrs. Doubtfire is the only applicant to show up for the nanny interview, and though Daniel’s ex-wife is uncomfortable, she pipes down when Mrs. Doubtfire threatens to sue her for discriminating against intersex people. Once he becomes the nanny for his own kids, all kinds of hijinx ensue, culminating in a crazy scene at a restaurant where his ex-wife is out on a date with Daniel Craig.
I loved Mrs. Doubtfire (2017) for the laughs and the humor and the heart. While the movie isn’t perfect, I admired The Rock for daring to take on a role that’s more complicated than his usual he-man action hero wheelhouse. In a way, it’s a throwback to earlier The Rock classics like Tooth Fairy (2010) but with more complex emotionality. As they inject themselves with more and more hormones, Mrs. Doubtfire’s gender and sexuality becomes increasingly ambiguous and mercurial. For a movie star of The Rock’s stature to tackle such strange and controversial subject matter in 2017 means he deserves an Oscar nomination in my opinion.
TL;DR – Mrs. Doubtfire (2017) uses its energetic lead and a bizarre twist to offer an emotionally demanding yet highly entertaining update on its classic source material.
What the rest of the critics are saying:
“The Rock is back, baby, and he’s better than ever!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com
“The first, but hopefully not the last time The Rock will star in a cinematic grotesque.” – Mother Waddles, Daily Mirror
“Why?” – Muhammad Rizky Chaniago, Film Racket
“Todd Solondz does what he can to turn The Rock’s usual charms into something disturbing and corrupt while transforming an appealing family entertainment into a much darker story.” – Nutdanai Nilchai, ScreenAnarchy
“The Rock’s soft – but not comically squeaky – voice gives Mrs. Doubtfire the soul she lacked in hot girl form, back when all the screenwriters could think of to have her do was take selfies.” – Amy Nicholson, Uproxx
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