The Judge Was Right To Take Away Daniel’s Custody In Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. doubtfire hellooooo face (via)

When I watched Mrs. Doubtfire as a child, I totally sided with Daniel Hillard. In fact I sided with him so hard that I hated Sally Field for years to come. “What an uptight bitch,” I thought whenever I saw her in that movie and ANYTHING ELSE. But then, upon a recent rewatch, I realized that she was completely in the right. And that Daniel’s a horrible father. So let’s take a trip back in time to this movie so that you too can see that he’s the worst.

The movie kicks off with Daniel getting fired from his job for not wanting to do it. I think you’re supposed to view this as a sign that he’s a creative genius trapped inside of a corporate drone. But instead I see him as a stuck-up “artist” who thinks he’s too good for the cartoons he’s voicing. Um, dude, someone’s paying you to make silly voices all day long. So you can tie that high horse up at the door and come on in to reality if you’d like.

But Daniel’s too good for a job so he happily leaves it, picks up his kids at school and throws his son Chris a wild birthday party on a week night. And its literally wild. There are farm animals everywhere. I’m sorry, but what kind of party is this? No, really? Where did these animals come from and WHY ARE THEY IN THE HOUSE? The neighbor, who’s supposed to be a total c-word, calls up Miranda at work to complain that the animals are eating her flowers. Which, looking back, is a totally valid complaint. So Miranda’s forced to leave her job (bear in mind, this is now the family’s sole source of income) and come and clean up her husband’s mess. As she cleans up from the petting zoo that was in her house, she realizes that her husband’s an overgrown child incapable of making rational decisions and promptly divorces him. Which, like her neighbor’s phone call to her, is completely and 100% valid.

Because Miranda’s proven herself to be the responsible parent, the judge gives her primary custody of the kids. Even though Daniel really, really loves them. From the second they were born! Miranda’s like, “bitch puhlease, I love them too. I love them so much that I don’t risk their health by bringing a farm into our house.” The judge, realizing that Daniel’s completely unfit to be around his own children, throws an extra requirement into the mix if he wants custody– he needs to get a job.

Mrs. Doubtfire hot dog impression


So he does. In fact he gets two. The first one’s as some kind of shipping assistant at a TV production company. Which is boring, but that’s what happens when you get fired from your job as a cartoon voice actor. People aren’t clamoring for you to work for them. The second job is as his children’s nanny. That’s right. In effort to prove that he’s a good father, Daniel transforms into an elderly lady and applies for the job as his children’s nanny. Hijinks ensue as he proves to be a much better housekeeper/nanny than he ever was as a husband. Miranda loves him! The kids love him! Everything’s going great!

Until Chris walks into the bathroom one day and see Mrs. Doubtfire peeing standing up. Five minutes of transgender shaming later, we see Daniel explaining to his two older children that he felt forced to do this because he loves them. Which will surely be a great jumping off point for them in therapy down the road. “You know that thing where your Dad loves you so much that he violates a court order and impersonates an elderly lady just so that he can see you? Yeah, my dad did that.”

Share This Post:
    • thisshortenough

      He didn’t just quit because he didn’t want to do it but it was because he didn’t think it was appropriate for children to view a cartoon bird talk about smoking as if it was something cool. And he did try and be responsible (ish) at first but Sally Field didn’t give him a chance since she would cut the kids visitation time short. Then he did a really stupid thing by becoming a drag queen housekeeper

      • Jenni

        What’s worse for kids? A smoking bird or their father pretending to be an elderly housekeeper who tries to murder their mother’s boyfriend?

      • thisshortenough

        Well the bird happened first so basically he had a mental snap in between the bird and the brassiere

      • Jenni

        Just a tiny little snap.

      • Gangle

        Nah, I don’t buy it. My dad quit his job when I was a kid. We were really poor, but his moral standing just would not allow him to stay where he was. But, because, you know, he was a husband and father before anything else he made damn well sure he had another job to go to first. It may have been a lesser-paying job, but he made sure that his family was secure first. I would have divorced Mr Williams ass fast if that was his lacksadasicle attitude to responsibility and marriage.

    • Jenni

      Also, can’t believe I left this out!

    • G.E. Phillips

      “It was a run-by fruiting!” will never not be funny, though.

      • Jenni

        I try to use it out of context at least once a month

    • A.J.

      It’s interesting how we see things differently as we get older. The problem with the movie is that, despite Daniel’s good (or questionably goodish, if you will) intentions, the film makes Sally Field out to be the bad guy who just doesn’t understand, instead of someone who’s also trying to do the best she can for her kids. The film is set up so that we’re supposed to sympathize with Daniel, and not question how his actions may have contributed to the divorce in the first place. But it speaks to this larger issue in our society and popular culture portrayal of divorce; mom = insensitive and shrewish, dad = someone just trying to get by and see his kids who’s at the mercy of the “mean” mom.

    • Carrie Thornton

      You raise some valid points, but I think I will always side with Daniel. I’ve loved this movie since it came out, and as a child of divorce, and then later a divorcee, it always breaks my heart when he says “We love each other…don’t we?” and she tells him she wants a divorce. I cry every time. What makes me continue to hate her is her snide behavior afterwards and her inability to empathize with this man who’s just had his life turned upside down. When she walks into his apartment and says “Oh, Daniel. Charming.” Bitch, you just kicked him out of his home, and now you’re mocking his new living arrangement he’s been in for about five minutes? He offers to try counseling, anything to save the marriage, and because she’s already got a lady boner for Pierce Brosnan, she says it’s too late. And what’s with her not just letting him watch the kids after school? “No, I’d rather pay someone $300 a week to watch them, dick-hole.” There was no real valid reason she couldn’t let him see them more than once a week. Many women have baby daddies who they couldn’t bribe to have a relationship with their kids, and this guy wants to be with them all the time. Why discourage that? Even when he does step up, clean up his apartment, and get a job, she still says no. Why? I don’t transfer these emotions to the actual Sally Field, but I just don’t like her in this movie.

      • Jenni

        I will say, as a child of divorce, that I do appreciate that the parents didn’t get back together but did learn to get along. It’s so much more realistic than most other divorce movies where the parents get back together.

      • Carrie Thornton

        I have to agree with you there, especially The Parent Trap, which basically says if you set your parents up on a blind date that reminds them of when they met, they’ll totally forget that they ever hated each other enough to move to separate continents to get away from each other.

      • abbeysbooks

        If no happy ending junk then no ticket sales.

    • Chelsea

      The first part of the movie was valid. He quit because he didn’t want to promote smoking to children. Other than that he is a lunatic.

    • Kay_Sue

      I have never had this moment with Mrs. Doubtfire, but I definitely did with Home Alone. As a child watching the opening scenes, I was all, “OMG! I can’t believe they are so mean to him!”, and as an adult and a parent, I’m like, “OMG! That kid needs some serious discipline! Someone’s groun-DED!”

      • Jenni

        I’m saving this review for the holiday season…but spoiler alert…I think Kevin might be a sociopath. No child should be able to come up with some many torture contraptions.

      • Kay_Sue

        I am going to put that on my list of things to look forward to–I can’t wait. And I completely agree. ;)

    • Amy

      I never thought the movie was trying to get us to hate Sally Field’s character or Pierce Brosnan’s. It was clear to me that Pierce Brosnan was supposed to be a good guy, evidenced at one point by his response to an acquaintance (who had said something to the effect of the children being excess baggage) about how great the children were, etc. Obviously Robin Williams’ character didn’t like him, but that is because he viewed him as breaking up his family. Sally Field’s character was just struggling to do what seemed best for the children, to her, as evidenced by some of her discussions with Mrs. Doubtfire.
      That said, I always felt, as someone else mentioned, that it was ridiculous that Daniel wasn’t allowed to watch the kids after school. I do think it was kind of nutty to pull the Mrs. Doubtfire thing, but it helped teach him to be a better person, as he became more responsible in the persona and it began to carry over to his real life. All in all, I can see why the judge took away custody, and based on what he knew, it was a good decision. It also makes sense, though, that after she was over her initial anger and shock, Miranda would recognize how much good he had done for the family as Mrs. Doubtfire, and how much he had grown in responsibility, and decide to let him back in.

    • Pingback: Miley Cyrus Talks About Liam Hemsworth to Barbara Walters()

    • Pingback: The Planned Mrs. Doubtfire Sequel Is A Bad Idea, Here's Why()

    • Mike Zunker

      I think this is a satirical review. Having gone through a divorce and having had a child with a woman who needed a kid to complete herself, I find the sympathy for the hole that kids come out of to be far in excess of what they deserve. These characters and the actors that portrayed them aside, IRL courts are very biased.

    • Pingback: Mara Wilson Writes Robin Williams Tribute About Mrs Doubtfire()

    • Pingback: On Mrs. Doubtfire | The Progressive Democrat()