This is At the Buzzer’s countdown of the best 25 comedies of all-time. Our panel of 10 cast their votes, and we’re revealing the results one by one until we get to No. 1 on Tuesday, May 10.
And now, our number 6:
6) Mrs. Doubtfire (5 votes, 206 points)
Mr. Hillard, do you consider yourself humorous?
I used to. There was a time when I found myself funny, but today you have proven me wrong. Thank you.
Chris: We talked about Mrs. Doubtfire at length in episode 220 of the podcast, but it’s worth revisiting here. I’m most interested in the fact that this really isn’t a kids movie — in fact, it’s rated PG-13. That makes sense when you consider some of the more raunchy jokes and throwaway lines (there’s a reference to oral sex I didn’t even notice until my third or fourth viewing). But the subject matter also gets a bit real at times.
As a divorce kid myself, this movie spoke to me on all sorts of levels. I really appreciated the fact that even though there’s a happy ending of sorts, it isn’t 100% perfect — the parents can’t just set aside their differences and get back together again. For kids who have had their families split, there are a couple pretty dark scenes here. The one after the birthday party where Daniel and Miranda argue for what feels like 10 minutes comes to mind, but the real gut punch is the custody hearing where Daniel makes an impassioned plea about how important his children are to him…and gets shut down. To this day I still get upset at Robin Williams’ reaction to the bad news in that scene.
So why was this so high on my list? Because it’s genuinely funny outside of the more serious moments. It’s the perfect vehicle for Williams to bounce off the walls, and I thoroughly enjoy Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan’s smaller roles as well. Like we mentioned on the show, the movie even managed to handle cross-dressing without being ruthlessly offensive — if anything, it almost looks tame compared to some of the arguments we’re having in 2016.
Mrs. Doubtfire was a huge box office success that has become more beloved over time after releasing to somewhat tepid reviews. If for some reason you haven’t seen it, you should. Even if it’s campy and silly at times, it’s an outstanding reminder of why Robin Williams was so celebrated as a comedy mainstay.
Cary: In the canon of Robin Williams movies, I don’t know that a single one features his ability to morph into roles within a role as well as Mrs. Doubtfire. And it’s more than a “Robin Williams movie;” it’s a wonderfully easy comedy to watch. Plus, there’s a poignancy to it that never borders on melodrama. Everything Williams does, as wacky is it seems, is driven by his love of his family. The movie never forgets that. It’s a movie that’s very funny when it’s funny and very touching when it isn’t. And that dichotomy is woven together so seamlessly that it’s easy to forget you’re watching a movie altogether.
Michaela: Mrs. Doubtfire was one of those movies whose mature themes and storytelling didn’t make sense to me as a kid, but I still got a lot of kicks out of it because of how funny it was. Now that I’m older and can appreciate both the comedy and the maturity, Mrs. Doubtfire is one of my favorite comedies ever. It’s heartwarming, funny, emotional, and memorable all thanks to Robin Williams’ excellent performance as the cross-dressing dad who just wants to be with his kids.
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