Remember the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire?” I just began to see the end again for the first time. It was Robin Williams at his finest; it was vintage stuff in his prime. Of course we are still disturbed by his death, and we all still lament his loss, but his work lives on. And there is no doubting the message and the moral behind this moving movie and funny film. Sally Field is the co-star and she also turns in one of her best performances.
Robin Williams’s character, Daniel Hillard, is an eccentric, eclectic actor who specializes in dubbing voices for cartoon characters. Daniel is a kind man and a loving father to his three kids Lydia, Chris, and Natalie, but Daniel’s wife Miranda sees him as a poor disciplinarian, and a bad role model. After Daniel throws an elaborate and disastrous birthday party for Chris, Miranda reaches the end of her limited patience, and files for a divorce. Daniel is heartbroken when Miranda is given custody of the kids and he’s only allowed to visit them once a week.
Determined to stay in contact with his kids, Daniel discovers that Miranda is looking for a housekeeper, and with help from his brother Frank, a makeup artist, Daniel gets the job, disguised as Mrs. Iphegenia Doubtfire, a Scottish nanny. Daniel pulls off the ruse so well that neither Miranda nor his children recognize him, and in the process, he learns some parenting tips. Daniel also has to deal with Miranda’s new boyfriend, a jerk named Stu Dunmeyer.
Mrs. Doubtfire gives us a dose of doubt in order to inoculate us from the disease that would deter us from our destiny. Mrs. Doubtfire is determined to see his (or her?) children, no matter what the cost. He does what and whatever it takes for him (or her?) to spend time with and care for his darling dears, even at the expense of destroying his reputation.
The charm and the appeal of this oddity, this oddball and this quirk of a quack and quagmire of a guy caught in a quandary is this: who would dress in drag just to fool his wife and drool over his kids? This desire and drive and determination is the movie’s enduring quality. Not many, and maybe not any of us would go to the same lengths for anything, or anyone, we love — and maybe that’s the problem. We don’t go, and we won’t go far enough for those we love. And it’s the faith of the character and the faith behind the character of Mrs. Doubtfire that is the key to Daniel Hillard’s redemption.
So don’t doubt the Mrs. Doubtfire’s that are lurking in your character. They just might save you.