It’s beginning to look like some anonymous Hollywood executive – in a misguided attempt at ingenuity – may have sent an email around the town saying, ‘Hey you guys! Remember the 90s? Let’s do that again!” With Jurassic Park, Point Break and Dumb And Dumber among the stories now being revisited, it was only a matter of time before Mrs. Doubtfire appeared in the creative crosshairs again.
Upon its release in 1993, Mrs Doubtfire raked in over $441 million in international box office, on a budget of just $25 million, and added Golden Globes to its trophy cabinet to boot. Based on Anne Fine’s novel “Alias Mrs Doubtfire,” the film adaptation was penned by Leslie Dixon and Randi Mayer Singer, and gave Robin Williams the perfect showcase for his chaotic kind of comedy. Starring as Daniel Hillard – a father facing divorce – Williams portrayed a man so desperate to maintain contact with his beloved children that he dresses up as a Scottish nanny, to stay in their daily lives. It’s all about the effect of divorce on parent-child relationships, and how we should all just give peace a chance.
That was 21 years ago, and in the intervening period, many have tried to bring Mrs. Doubtfire back – including Bonnie Hunt – but all have failed. Now we have a new attempt, thanks to David Berenbaum, who wrote the popular 2003 movie, Elf. With the director of the original, Chris Columbus, developing the project for Fox 2000, it seems that he and Williams are encouraged enough by this latest pitch that they are ‘attached,’ though not yet signed. Apparently, after several non-starters, Berenbaum’s idea is an ‘original take.’
Is it? Is it, really? How ‘original’ can it be, if the central joke of the first film is a man disguising himself as a large Scottish woman? Will the sequel see him dress up as something else? 21 years down the line, surely it’s all about the grandchildren. Perhaps one of Hillard’s adult kids is now facing divorce, and Grandpa must don the wig once more to counsel the offspring through it. Where the theme of the first film was the effect of divorce on children, perhaps the sequel will look at how it affects them into adulthood, in their own relationships. That might be an interesting angle to take – creating an all-new chapter on the story, rather than a re-hashing of old ideas.
No word yet on wider casting, but assuming this Mrs. Doubtfire project is intended to fit in with the current 90s nostalgia trip we seem to be on, we can almost certainly expect it move forward quickly once the script is complete. In the meantime, we’ll listen out for the doorbell.