Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) is no ordinary father, so when he learns his ex-wife (Sally Field) needs a housekeeper, he applies for the job. With the perfect wig, a little makeup and a dress for all occasions, he becomes Mrs. Doubtfire, a devoted British nanny who is hired on the spot. Free to be the "woman" he never knew he could be, the disguised Daniel creates a whole new life with his entire family.
The special features on Mrs. Doubtfire (Behind-the-Seams Edition)
are a real treasure trove for fans of the hit Chris Columbus film as well as longtime admirers of Robin Williams. Loads of backstage footage, archived interviews, and miscellaneous gems are packed onto the second of this two-disc set, giving viewers a strong sense of what it was like to film this touching comedy in an atmosphere of discovery and semi-improvisation. Beginning at the beginning, "From Man to Mrs.--The Evolution of Mrs. Doubtfire" tells the story of the movie's origins from British novel to a Robin Williams project, shepherded to the screen by Williams and his producer wife Marsha Garces Williams, and given its ultimate shape and heart by director Columbus. Everyone agrees that the pre-Columbus working script was too thin and too strained with a happy ending that got Williams' character and his estranged wife (Sally Field) back together. The soul of the story, Columbus says in an interview, is its painful tale of a divorce in which children and parents have to suffer the consequences of separation. Elsewhere, there is extensive discussion about makeup and how Mrs. Doubtfire's camouflaging personality actually liberated Williams by containing his sprawling sense of comic freedom. Still, there was plenty of room for Williams to cut loose from the script and make up scenes as he went along.
Disc two has lots of examples of Williams winging it, scene-by-scene, the best of his many takes ultimately finding their way into the official feature. (Anyone who loves seeing Williams turn every take into a new adventure will thoroughly enjoy this feature.) Another bonus is a nice chunk of material about legendary animator Chuck Jones' involvement in Mrs. Doubtfire, creating a new cat-and-bird cartoon combo at Columbus' behest. Photo galleries, an original and still watchable 1993 featurette about the production, sundry trailers, publicity stills and insights from Field, Columbus, Williams, and co-star Pierce Brosnan round out this DVD set's auxiliary offerings. --Tom Keogh