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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.0 Surround
    English, Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian
  • 18 Deleted scenes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Director Chris Columbus
  • 3 Featurette - Makeup test, original pencil test of animation sequence, final animation sequence
  • Interviews
  • Documentaries - Makeup application

Mrs Doubtfire - Special Edition

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 120 mins . PG . PAL


You know, we've seen it all before. Man meets woman, man and woman marry, man and woman have three cutesy kids, man and woman divorce, man dresses up as woman to be with his kids... Oops, hang on a minute.

Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) is an actor, the type who perpetually seems to be losing one gig then searching for another - not least of all as he has a certain tendency to be difficult, deciding to rewrite scripts to suit his own beliefs. He's married to Miranda (the Flying Nun), pretty much his antithesis as the smart-dressed business-headed interior designer. They have three kids ranging from five to thirteen, and a pretty home in San Francisco (well it must be, as it has hills and cable cars).

But all is not peachy. On returning home from work early to find a veritable menagerie of farm animals and children running roughshod over her house courtesy of a Daniel-driven birthday party for their son, an argument ensues until Miranda has finally had enough, and citing the usual clichés ("we've grown apart", "we have nothing in common") asks Daniel for the dreaded 'D' word. Bye bye fourteen years of marriage.

The three kids absolutely dote on their father, as he does on them, so his departure (in his wood-panelled station wagon, the type of car that only people in movies seem to drive) is devastating. Daniel seeks refuge with his brother, Frank, a stereotypical gay guy (played with great gusto by Harvey Fierstein, who tends to get a lot of these roles) and his partner Jack (he's Aunt Jack to the kids, but seems to have foregone the bright blue dress and boxing glove here). It's here that we discover that the couple are movie makeup artists - hmm, now this could be a handy plot device...

Custody proceedings ensue, and Daniel is given 90 days to land a secure job and set up a decent home. If he manages to do so then joint custody will be granted, if not it's the one-day a week shuffle for he and the kids. He's appointed a po-faced court liaison who he completely fails to charm, finds a dump of a flat and lands a job in television - boxing and shipping film cans. Hardly auspicious, but it's a start.

As Miranda starts a'flirtin' with an old "acquaintance", Stu (Pierce Brosnan), and Daniel sees the slick Englishman finagling his way into his kids' affections, he becomes increasingly desperate, and when hearing that Miranda is employing a housekeeper the old light bulb above his head tinks to life - hmm, now why can’t he do it? Well, let's see. You're a forty something, remarkably craggy and hirsute man whose absence from the house is the reason for the job coming up in the first place. The odds aren’t too good, but with a dowdy skirt and cardie, a generous amount of padding and a lot of help from your brother and his skills, who knows? And so Mrs Doubtfire is 'born' - a sixty-five year old nanny with an accent that veers all over the place between English and Scottish, and a face that could sink a thousand ships. Even with a head covered in prosthetics and three feet of makeup 'she' is definitely a sight, and as for the body hair, well all the wax at Madame Tussaud's disposal wouldn’t even come close to coping. However, I digress...

Needless to say Mrs Doubtfire gets the housekeeping gig, fumbles through such extremely challenging chores as cooking and cleaning, and does the strict disciplinarian thing on the kids. Miranda is impressed, and many wacky hijinx naturally ensue as Mrs D avoids the advances of a horny bus-driver, gets discovered by two of her kids (honey, women don’t wee-wee that way), tries to sabotage the budding relationship between Miranda and Stu and flips between also having to be Daniel at times. It is one of these times that brings about his/her outing, and so it's back to court.

This is a Hollywood film. This is SUCH a Hollywood film that it is almost enough to make your morning's breakfast want to pop up and say hello. As with much of Robin Williams' latter day work it is predictable, schmaltzy to the nth degree, at times sickeningly cloying and you pretty much know where it's heading the entire time it's on. However, it is also strangely human as well, and whilst aiming calculatingly at the post-'80s not-so-model-anymore family market it manages to handle the subject in a fairly realistic and caring fashion, despite all the silliness and the often ludicrous plot. Being ultra-Hollywood you also know there will be a happy ending, but "gee, willikers", maybe it won’t quite be the Cleaveresque type you may have expected before these days where peoples' lives have became so darned complicated...


Hmmm, what's the best way to put this? Well, my theory is that perhaps this film was made last week and fell through a time warp into cinemas in 1993, as this transfer is exemplary. Filmed in anamorphic 2.35:1 Panavision, and coming to disc in exactly the same format, this nearly puts most every release of even the most recent films to shame.

Detail, sharpness, black levels, colour, flesh tones, contrast - you name it, it all looks absolutely superb. The only possible grumbles I can muster are a couple of rare instances of aliasing, and there was one solitary black artefact that caught my eye. Even the layer change, whilst unusually occurring quite early in the film, was well placed enough to go by almost unnoticed.

This is nigh on a visual presentation that makes most all I have seen before pale, and worthy of many congratulations to those responsible.


Presented in Dolby 5.0, this is another fine effort - and the lack of the extra bass channel is not one that should be of concern for a film such as this. I did notice a little bit of hiss at odd times, but nothing too startling or intrusive. Synching is fine, at least for the humans in the film.

The score is from Howard Shore, and he has done a fine job in that you don’t really notice it (a good thing in a dialogue-driven film), but would miss it if it were not there. Added to this are a selection of rather predictable tunes ranging from Luck Be A Lady by Frank Sinatra to Walk Like A Man by the Four Seasons, to James Brown's Papa's Got A Brand New Bag and the hideous cock-schlock-rock of Aerosmith - I won’t be giving any prizes for guessing which song. Suffice to say that the absence of Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side and The Kinks' classic Lola surprised me.


Well, it's billed as a Special Edition - so come on, impress us!

Hmm, static and silent menus - so far, so boring. However don’t phone in yet, for we also get...

Cast interviews: Around eight minutes, presented in full screen (except for a clip from the movie) and featuring brief interviews with members of the cast ranging from the fabulous Harvey Fierstein (who let's out the secret that this interview was done for the laserdisc release of the film) to Sally Field, to a rather hirsute Pierce Brosnan, all the kids from the film and Robin Williams himself. It does tend to be a bit too much of a Robin Williams Is Ace type of thing, but it is worth a look - AFTER you have watched the film.

Comments from Chuck Jones: OK, who just said "Who's Chuck Jones?"?!!! Hang your head in shame heathen, as this man was responsible for some of the greatest animation ever to grace screens of any sort, predominantly from the classic Warner Brothers archives. Depressingly brief at around four and a half minutes, and dropping abruptly into mid-conversation, I only just fell short of genuflecting to the screen as the great man spoke briefly of his work for the animated sequence that opens Mrs Doubtfire.

Original pencil test of animation sequence: Simply fascinating for anybody with even the slightest interest in the techniques of animation, this shows just over two minutes of the original pencil drawings in motion, complete with see through characters and all, and some of the final voice-work from Robin. Whilst rather chock full of artefacts, and even random slates, to let this roughness from something never intended to be seen outside the studio put you off viewing this would be silly in the extreme.

Final animation sequence: Yum! An original Chuck Jones cartoon, with original characters (the bird's name is Pudgy, the cat's Grunge) created especially for this film. Presented in 2.35:1, nigh on pristine visually and running just shy of five minutes, it is a simply captivating example of truly classic animation, the only inherent faults being that it is too short, and doesn’t actually have an ending (as none was required in the film). It explains (Tex) Avery's law of cartoon falling for the uninitiated, and even features a product from those fine purveyors of cartoon trickery, the Acme Company. Almost worth the price of the disc alone for this little black duck, as it is nothing short of brilliant.

Makeup test: Just over four minutes of rather grainy full screen vision, featuring interview snips from Mr Williams, Chris Columbus and more, lots of adlibbing as the character of Mrs Doubtfire was honed and even a naughty word from he who was once Mork.

Makeup application with commentary by makeup artist Ve Neill: Under four minutes in length, this is mildly interesting stuff from the same person responsible for Jack's The Joker makeup in the first latter-day Batman film, and Danny De Vito's The Penguin in Batman Returns. It's quite amazing how much Williams went through (up to four hours in the chair) to still look utterly frightful.

Deleted scenes: Numbering eighteen in all, and boasting a combined running total of around 28 minutes, these are presented in a ratio of 2.35:1, but are not anamorphically enhanced. They are all in pretty good shape, although some have a tendency to be a bit shimmery at times, suggesting perhaps that they were lopped quite late in the film's editing, although with alternate takes present of a couple of scenes it may just be that somebody was smart enough to simply look after them. It was nice to see that originally there was some closure for Mrs D's bus-driver admirer, which could have easily been left in, whilst many of the scenes were obviously cropped to shorten the film - which at two hours is rather long for this type of fare.

Theatrical trailer: After all the loveliness we have had so far, this is in clunky old full screen, and is rather over-bright. Standard trailer-type fare, it runs for just under two minutes and as is typical with such things gives away many of the funnier moments in the film.

Audio commentary by Chris Columbus: Whilst certainly not the most engaging commentary ever digitally encoded (and it has been before, as this was also done for the laserdisc), the serious young thing that is Chris Columbus still has many interesting things to impart. Those passionate about the filmmaking process especially should find much of interest here, as he goes to great lengths explaining many of the processes used from dollies to tracking shots and the like, stylistic decisions, the freedom given to the cast to adlib (after shooting what was actually scripted) and even differences in framing when he had to do the full screen transfer for VHS and television. Heck, he even tries to take credit for discovering the latest James Bond!


Mrs Doubtfire is a pleasant enough family comedy that relentlessly straddles the vomit-line, but rarely goes venturing too far over it. It features some wonderful performances, from the typically over-the-top Williams, to a great counterpoint to his antics in Sally Field, to the three kids to the aforementioned Harvey. As is usual with a Williams film you often tend to wonder how much of what he's portraying is actually him, as his hyper-manic nature tends to come out just as much in real life as on the screen, still thank heavens that this is most certainly no Bicentennial Man (probably the most icky piece of saccharine cinematic plop that this reviewer has ever had the misfortune to suffer through).

Whilst the movie is so-so, the disc is a treat. As alluded to earlier, it is one of the most pristine visual presentations yet witnessed by these eyes, which is all the more impressive as the film is eight years old, and the sound scrubs up more than adequately. We also discover that laserdiscs actually served a useful function in that most of the special features included here, and there are many, appear to have been made for that format and have since made their transition from that big old clunky form to the slim, handy and neat DVD format. You could say it's sort of like a Carnie Wilson before and after...

If you aren’t into Hollywood-to-the-power-of-infinity type films then run away - fast, however for a harmless, reasonably chucklesome two hour fluff watch this is at least worthy of a rent.

Oh, and if you're ever on the lookout for a housekeeper, you may wish to check their credentials VERY carefully...

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      And I quote...
    "A pretty good entrant into the ugly blokes in dresses genre, the beauty coming from a near flawless visual presentation and a swag of extras..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Home Built
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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