Mr. Mom (1983) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG for language, sensuality, and brief nudity
Running Time: 91 min.
Cast: Michael Keaton, Teri Garr, Martin Mull, Ann Jillian, Frederick Koehler, Taliesin Jaffe, Courtney White, Brittany White, Jeffrey Tambor, Christopher Lloyd
Director: Stan Dragoti
Screenplay: John Hughes
Review published September 7, 2005
After breadwinner Jack Butler (Keaton, Beetlejuice) gets laid off from his job, his wife Caroline (Garr, Young Frankenstein) heads out to make a living while he stays home with the three kids. Jack immediately finds out that being a stay at home Dad isn't as easy as it sounds, while Caroline learns about the difficulties that an attractive woman has working with the male-dominated office at work. Hilarity ensues.
Mr. Mom is only the second film scripted by John Hughes (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Christmas Vacation), and the first to really put his name on the map as a talent to watch in family comedies. It's formulaic sitcom material that works thanks to Hughes' inventive situations, Dragoti's (The Man with One Red Shoe, Necessary Roughness) ability to merge the comedy with musical cues and sight gags, and a very appealing cast of actors. Michael Keaton is in top form as a comedian in a manic but still endearing performance as a father trying hard to maintain a semblance of being the head of the house while his wife is the one that manages to take care of all of them financially.
In many ways, Mr. Mom would set the precedent for future comedies where a male lead actor is paired with children in order to score some laughs at their expense, allowing for ingratiating moments to make us like these actors a little more than we did before. Daddy Day Care, The Pacifier, Three Men and A Baby and many more were born from the formula, but none have been able to match this one in terms of creativity and genuine laughs.
By today's standards, it isn't so rare to find a woman out in the work place, especially pulling in more money than her husband. It's also not really all that novel for a father to share in the raising of the children, so in that way, perhaps the comedy is a bit dated. Still, the wittiness of Hughes script and Keaton's performance does carry the film into the real of an 80s classic that should please families looking for movies that will please young and old for generations to come.
©2005 Vince Leo