Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Chris Columbus
Produced by Marsha Garces Williams
Robin Williams
Mark Radcliffe
Screenplay by Randi Mayem Singer
Leslie Dixon
Based on Madame Doubtfire
by Anne Fine
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Edited by Raja Gosnell
Blue Wolf Productions
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • November 24, 1993 (1993-11-24) (United States)
Running time
125 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[1]
Box office $441.3 million[1]

Mrs. Doubtfire is a 1993 American comedy-drama film directed by Chris Columbus and written by Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon, based on Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine. It stars Robin Williams (who also served as co-producer), Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan, Harvey Fierstein and Robert Prosky. It follows a recently divorced actor who dresses up as a female housekeeper to be able to interact with his children.

The film was released in the United States on November 24, 1993.[2] It won the Academy Award for Best Makeup[3] and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. For his performance in the film, Robin Williams was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Actor.

Although the film received mixed reviews during its original theatrical run, more recent reviews have been much more positive: the film was placed 67th in the American Film Institute's 100 Years, 100 Laughs: America's Funniest Movies and was also rated No. 40 on Bravo's 100 Funniest Movies of All Time. The original music score was composed by Howard Shore. The film was released in the United Kingdom on January 28, 1994, and topped the country's box office that weekend.


Daniel Hillard is a freelance voice actor living in San Francisco, California. Though a devoted and loving father to his three children Lydia, Chris, and Natalie, Daniel is an unreliable husband. One day, Daniel quits his job due to a disagreement over a questionable script, and throws a wild birthday party for his son Chris with a petting zoo against his wife Miranda's objections. Returning home from work due to a neighbor's complaint, Miranda is angry at Daniel for planning a party behind her back and, after an argument, files for divorce. At their first custody hearing, the judge grants Miranda sole custody of the children since Daniel has neither a residence nor a steady job, but rules that if Daniel gets a steady job and a residence suitable for children within three months, he will allow Daniel and Miranda to share joint custody.

As Daniel attempts to rebuild his life, he learns that Miranda intends to hire a housekeeper and secretly alters her classifieds form when she declines his offer to take care of the children. He then calls Miranda several times, using his voice acting skills as several bad job applicants. Finally, he calls as a Scottish-accented[4] nanny, whom he calls Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire. Impressed with her alleged qualifications, Miranda invites "Mrs. Doubtfire" for an interview. Daniel enlists his older brother Frank, a makeup artist, and his partner Jack to transform him into the character.

After being further impressed by the interview, Miranda hires Mrs. Doubtfire. The children initially struggle to adjust to Mrs. Doubtfire's methods, but they soon begin to thrive, becoming happier and doing better in school while Miranda is able to heal her distant relationship with her children as she and Mrs. Doubtfire become good friends. Daniel has to learn several skills to play his role, such as cooking and cleaning, and also improves himself.

However, despite impressing Miranda greatly with his newfound maturity, Daniel realizes that he has indirectly created another barrier, as when he asks to look after the children one night, Miranda insists she could never dismiss Mrs. Doubtfire as the family's lives have been made so much better by "her." One night, Lydia and Chris accidentally discover that Mrs. Doubtfire is actually Daniel in disguise and though initially shocked by the revelation, they are overjoyed that their father is back in their lives and agree to keep his disguise a secret.

Daniel also takes a menial job at a television station. One day, CEO Jonathan Lundy sees Daniel playing around with toy dinosaurs on the set of an unsuccessful children's program. Impressed with Daniel's creativity, Mr. Lundy invites him to dinner at Bridge's Restaurant on the coming Friday night for Daniel to pitch ideas as a new host. Meanwhile, Miranda expects Mrs. Doubtfire to attend a birthday dinner arranged by her new boyfriend Stu Dunmire scheduled at the same time and place. Not wanting to disappoint his family, Daniel tries to postpone his dinner with Lundy, but Lundy is already booked for other events for the next two months.

Daniel goes to the restaurant and tries to rotate between both dinners, changing in and out of the Mrs. Doubtfire costume in the restroom, but becomes drunk as both tables provide him with numerous alcoholic beverages. After seasoning Stu's food with cayenne pepper, which Stu is allergic to, he forgets to change out of the Mrs. Doubtfire costume before returning to Mr. Lundy's table. When Lundy questions the costume, Daniel covers for his mistake by explaining that his alter-ego is his idea for a television persona, impressing Lundy. At Miranda's table, Stu starts choking. Regretful Daniel administers the Heimlich maneuver, ripping his mask in the process and revealing his identity to Miranda's horror.

At their next custody hearing, Daniel shows that he has a job and a suitable home, then explains his actions. The judge, however, is disturbed by Daniel's actions, and grants Miranda full custody, with Daniel limited to supervised visitation once a week, leaving Daniel heartbroken. Without Mrs. Doubtfire, the children again become miserable and even Miranda admits their lives were so much better with "her". Soon, they are delighted when they see Daniel dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire hosting his own television program, "Euphegenia's House", which becomes a hit across several American cities.

Miranda pays a visit to Daniel after he wraps up one episode. Congratulating him on his success, she admits that things were better when he was involved, so she forgives him and decides to appeal the custody ruling. Later on, the children are greeted by Daniel, revealed as their new babysitter, undisguised and now allowed to see them anytime he wants.

They head out as Miranda watches a "Euphegenia's House" episode where Mrs. Doubtfire answers a letter from a young girl whose parents have separated, saying no matter what arrangements families have, love will prevail




The San Francisco house used for exterior shots of the film, photographed several days after Robin Williams' death. A fan-made tribute to Williams can be seen at its front steps.

Chicago was the studio's first choice for filming. However, as two new television series (ER and Chicago Hope) had a lease with the city during the subsequent time period, production was relocated to San Francisco. Various locations in the city were used during filming. Parts were filmed at the studios of television station KTVU in Oakland. Street signs for the intersection near the "Painted Lady" home, Steiner, and Broadway, were visible onscreen.

The exact address 2640 Steiner Street 37°47′38.07″N 122°26′10.78″W / 37.7939083°N 122.4363278°W / 37.7939083; -122.4363278 became a tourist attraction for some time after the film's release.[5] Following Williams's death on August 11, 2014, the house became an impromptu memorial.[6] All interior filming for the home took place in a Bay Area warehouse converted for sound stage usage. Williams' character Daniel Hillard lived upstairs from Danilo Bakery at 516 Green Street; his children attended a school at Filbert and Taylor.

The makeup for Mrs. Doubtfire's appearance took four hours to apply.[7] Williams later recounted how he used to walk through San Francisco dressed in full Mrs. Doubtfire makeup and costume, and on one occasion, visiting a sex shop to buy a large dildo and other toys.[8]

The restaurant scene was filmed at Bridges Restaurant & Bar, in Danville, California.


Mrs. Doubtfire
Soundtrack album by Howard Shore
Released December 7, 1993
Genre Soundtrack
Length 41:07
Label Fox Music
Producer Howard Shore
Professional ratings
Review scores
Track listing
  1. "Mrs. Doubtfire" – 2:58
  2. "Divorce" – 2:56
  3. "My Name Is Else Immelman" – 2:55
  4. "Meeting Mrs. Doubtfire" – 2:14
  5. "Tea Time with Mrs. Sellner" – 3:58
  6. "Dinner Is Served" – 2:18
  7. "Daniel and the Kids" – 2:29
  8. "Cable Cars" – 4:56
  9. "Bridges Restaurant" – 6:13
  10. "Show's Over" – 3:26
  11. "The Kids Need You" – 3:21
  12. "Figaro / Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" – 3:23

The score was composed, orchestrated, and conducted by Howard Shore. The CD was mastered by Ted Jensen. The song Robin Williams sings at the cartoon voice-over in the beginning is "Largo al factotum." Other songs featured often were chosen referencing the identity of Mrs. Doubtfire. These songs include:

Additionally, these songs were featured:


The film was released in the United States on November 24, 1993, and was rated PG-13.[10]

In January 1994, when released in the United Kingdom, the film received a certificate of 12 which, at the time, completely refused access to children under the age of 12 at cinemas. This resulted in cinemas requesting their local authorities to override the decision of the British Board of Film Classification, after having to turn down disappointed families. In February 1994, The Independent reported that the censors refused the film a U or PG certificate, and gave it a 12 instead, which was due to 20th Century Fox refusing to remove three controversial lines.[11]

After the film's distributors requested the BBFC to reconsider, a compromise was reached in which the film was re rated PG with the thirteen seconds of sexual innuendos cut, and it was re released in May 1994. The cut version was also used in subsequent VHS and DVD releases in the United Kingdom. In November 2012, the distributors resubmitted the uncut version to the BBFC, and the 12 certificate was reinstated.[12] On March 4, 2013, the uncut version was released on Blu-ray and downloads in the United Kingdom.


Box office

The film earned $219,195,243 in the United States, along with $222,090,952 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $441,286,195,[1] making it the highest grossing cross-dressing film.[13] It became the second highest grossing film of 1993, behind only Jurassic Park.[14][15] Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 52.6 million tickets in the US.[16]

Critical reception

At the time of its release, several critics compared Mrs. Doubtfire unfavorably with Some Like It Hot (1959) and others who viewed the film favorably noted its similarity to Tootsie (1982).[17]

On Rotten Tomatoes, Mrs. Doubtfire has a rating of 71%, based on 49 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The site's critical reception reads, "On paper, Mrs. Doubtfire might seem excessively broad or sentimental, but Robin Williams shines so brightly in the title role that the end result is difficult to resist."[18][19] On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 53 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[20]


In 2000, the American Film Institute placed the film on its 100 Years...100 Laughs list, where it was ranked #67.[21]

Cancelled sequel

In 2001, Mrs. Doubtfire 2 began being developed by Bonnie Hunt, but writing did not begin until 2003. Robin Williams was set to return in disguise as an old nanny. Due to problems with the script, re-writing began in 2006, as Williams was unhappy with the plot, and the sequel was again "scrapped" later that year. The film was expected to be released in late 2007, but following further script problems, the sequel was declared "scrapped" in December 2006.[22]

In 2006, in an Newsday interview, Williams said the sequel was indefinitely scrapped. Stating his reasons, he said, "The script they had just didn't work." The sequel's story involved Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire moving close to Lydia's college, so he could keep an eye on her.[23] In December 2006, during an interview on BBC Radio 1 by DJ Edith Bowman, Williams said that if it is not going to be done right, then it is not worth doing, and that there would not be a sequel with him in it.

In August 2010, on Alan Carr: Chatty Man, Williams again brought up the topic of a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. He blamed the script not being right as the reason a sequel wasn't made. He claimed the script had been written three times and failed, and there was no mention of any ongoing work on the project. Furthermore, in December 2011, during an interview by Moviehole, Williams stated again that the chances of a sequel are "highly unlikely".

Williams stated in 2011:

"They could never write it. They kept trying and it doesn’t work.. because at the end of the first one they reveal who [Mrs. Doubtfire] is. So it ends up being her for five minutes and then she transitions into some old Russian woman. They so far can’t crack it.”[24]

In 2014,[25] Chris Columbus stated that:

We're talking about a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. We've [he and Williams] talked about it, and the studio is interested in it. The thing that fascinates me about a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire is with most actors who create an iconic character like Mrs. Doubtfire, when you come back and do that character, well, you're twenty years older so, you're not going to look the same.

The cool thing with Mrs. Doubtfire is there's a character, there's a woman, who is actually going to look exactly as she did in 1993.

In April 2014, it was announced that a sequel was in development at 20th Century Fox. Williams and Columbus were expected to return, and Elf screenwriter David Berenbaum was hired to write the script.[26] However, after Williams' suicide in August 2014, plans for a sequel were permanently cancelled.[27]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 "Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  2. "Mrs. Doubtfire". Box Office Mojo. 24 November 1993. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  3. 1 2 Awards for Mrs. Doubtfire. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
  4. "Film crimes against the Scottish accent" BBC 23 December 2013
  5. Shot on This Site, William A. Gordon, Citadel, 1995, p.39.
  6. "Robin Williams memorial grows outside 'Mrs. Doubtfire' house"
  7. Jessica Probus. "The Actual Makeup From "Mrs. Doubtfire" Was Even More Intense Than You Realized". Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  8. Christopher Hooton (2014-08-12). "Robin Williams, dressed as Mrs Doubtfire, walks into a sex shop… - News - Films". The Independent. Archived from the original on August 14, 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  9. Ankeny, Jason. "Mrs. Doubtfire (Original Soundtrack Album) - Howard Shore". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
  10. "Mrs Doubtfire TV spot". You Tube. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  11. "Film stars lost for words: But why does Mrs Doubtfire have to swear? asks David Lister". 13 February 1994. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  12. "Case study into the film's rating history in the UK". Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  13. "Arts & Media". Guinness World Records 2007 (UK ed.). Guiness World Records Limited. 2006. p. 182. ISBN 1-904994-11-3.
  14. Fox, David J. (1994-02-01). "Mrs. Doubtfire' Still the Champ". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  15. Fox, David J. (1994-01-04). "Mrs. Doubtfire Takes the Holiday". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  16. "Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  17. "Papa's Got A Brand New Drag". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  18. "Review at Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
  19. "Go behind the scenes with 'Mrs. Doubtfire'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  20. "Mrs. Doubtfire—Metacritic". Retrieved 5 April 2013.
  21. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-28.
  22. "Williams Rejects Mrs. Doubtfire Sequel". 2006-12-07. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
  23. Brunton, Richard (December 5, 2006). "Williams says no Mrs Doubtfire 2". Filmstalker. Retrieved February 6, 2007.
  24. "MRS. DOUBTFIRE 2 in Development; Robin Williams Will Return". 2014-04-16. Retrieved 2016-08-26.
  25. UK, The Huffington Post (2014-04-17). "'Mrs. Doubtfire' Sequel In The Works?'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  26. Kit, Borys (April 16, 2014). "'Mrs. Doubtfire' Sequel in the Works at Fox 2000 (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  27. Sperling, Nicole (August 11, 2014). "Robin Williams leaves behind four upcoming films". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 12, 2014.

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