'Mrs. Doubtfire' Dresses In Drag For Today's Sick Day Stash

Call them "cult classics." "Guilty pleasures." "Comfort movies." We all have a mental rolodex of flicks that may not be terribly popular but, for one reason or another, they resonate in a very special way. Maybe you saw it at the right moment. Maybe you just see gold where everyone else sees feces. Whatever the case, these are the special favorites that you keep stashed away for sick days. Here are some of ours.

by Rya Backer

Basically, the best movie in the history of the world is “Mrs. Doubtfire.” I mean, I like “good” movies, too (“This Is Spinal Tap,” “Being There,” “Annie Hall,” “Taxi Driver,” – what I’m trying to say is that I’m well-rounded and know enough about the art of filmmaking), but in the land of celluloid, only one feature film can be king. And that feature film clocks in at just over 120 minutes, most of which involves Robin Williams dressed up as a cuddly, British grandmother (who will make you sponge walls if you’re bad – ask Natalie, she knows all about it).

Okay, so this movie came out in 1993. I saw it FOUR TIMES in theaters (including once with my grandmother who doesn’t speak English, and even she loved it). What else was I supposed to do? In 1993, the only things in the world that were cool were like, Pogs, Beastie Boys (they still are), sleepovers where you were allowed to stay up to watch “Saturday Night Live,” your friends getting braces, and ASCII art. So “Mrs. Doubtfire” was really a breath of fresh air – if only because it didn’t feature a drawing of a truck made solely out of the letter “h.” And because it featured a Lawrence brother: sweet and gentle Matthew (call me!).

You get the premise of the movie, right? Miranda (Sally Field) and Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) divorce, Miranda starts dating Stuart Dunmeyer (Pierce Brosnan, as a fancy perennial bachelor) and Daniel gets the idea to be his kids’ babysitter, using his gay brother (Harvey Fierstein) -- a make-up artist -- to dress him up like a woman. In the end, everyone meets at Bridges Restaurant. Stuart chokes on a piece of shrimp because there’s cayenne pepper on it (he's allergic) while Mrs. Doubtfire gets drunk and sits at network bigwig Jonathan Lundy’s table, where he pitches a show in which he plays Mrs. Doubtfire. Then Daniel saves Stuart’s life by giving him the Heimlich, losing his Doubtfire mask in the process. Busted! Then they go to court and it’s sad. And Daniel’s show is really successful, and he gets to see his children more often. So we're happy again. That paragraph made no sense. Moral of the story: this movie has a lot of layers!

I’ve actually watched "Mrs. Doubtfire" many a time on a sick day. I’d go so far as to say that it’s either cured me, or expedited my wellness during some viewings. Sometimes, I don’t even intend to watch it, but then I turn on the TV, and – like those times in college when you’re at a lame party but then you see the babe from your Sociology lecture standing with his friends in the kitchen – it’s there, and I decide to re-apply my lipgloss, get comfortable and enjoy the show. These are my favorite parts of my favorite movie:

- When Daniel Hillard (Williams) and his son are dancing on top of a piano to House of Pain’s “Jump Around” at his surprise petting zoo birthday party.

- When Miranda Hillard (Field) takes a really deep exhale when she sees the first meal Mrs. Doubtfire (again, Williams!) prepares.

- When Stuart Dunmeyer (Brosnan) invites everyone to his fancy country club and he turns to the kids and says “alright guys, swim time!” Whatta tool.

- When Williams needs a new mask while Gloria Chaney is over (because his last one was just run over by a truck) and he slams his face into a cake with meringue icing. Because he’s got one in his fridge.


- When Daniel calls Miranda as different “babysitters,” and he does that “ahhhhhhh! Layla, get back in your cell” phone call.

- When the bus driver sees Mrs. Doubtfire’s hairy knee and says he likes it because it’s “… natural. Just the way God made ya.”

- When Daniel gets dressed up like an old Jewish grandmother by his brother and his brother’s husband and Daniel vows to “never get gribines from a Moil.”

The end. Please watch “Mrs. Doubtfire.” It’s so good!