Mrs. Doubtfire: Special Edition (1993)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 14-Mar-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Interviews-Cast-(8:05)
Featurette-Comments from Chuck Jones (4:25)
Featurette-Original Pencil Test of Animation Sequence (2:16)
Featurette-Final Animation Sequence (4:58)
Featurette-Make-Up Test (4:04)
Featurette-Make-Up Application (3:42)
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 (1:59)
Audio Commentary-Chris Columbus (Director)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 119:51
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (17:48) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Chris Columbus
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Robin Williams
Sally Field
Pierce Brosnan
Harvey Fierstein
Robert Prosky
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Howard Shore


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.0 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Somewhere during the mid 1990s, Mrs Doubtfire moved from being a very funny film to being a decent enough way to wile away a couple of hours. Therein lies the big problem with this film. There is no doubt that it is a good comedy, but it simply is not a film that you can watch repeatedly, as it definitely loses its impact if you watch it too often. I really got fed up with this film sometime around 1995 as I had seen it too often (cinema, television, video). I have not watched the film since, until I sat down and watched this DVD for the review. Returning to it after a break of six years certainly has freshened up the comedy a little and it has turned out to be something of a pleasant experience to do this review. I guess now that I should resist the temptation to watch the DVD again until maybe 2006.

    Funnily enough I was reminded of this problem with the film by my father when it was announced that I had the DVD for review: "Not a film you can watch too often" he said, and reminded me of the fact that I had not seen it for a while.

    That is not to say that it is a bad film, but simply that it is a film that outstays its welcome very quickly in my view. The story is a pretty simple one. Manic but loving father of three and sometime actor Daniel Hillard (Robin Williams) has a knack for annoying his busy professional wife Miranda (Sally Field). This is no more evidenced than when he collects his children from school on his son's twelfth birthday and takes them home for a birthday party - a party specifically forbidden by dear old mother - complete with a mobile zoo. Cue one nosey neighbour who drops poor old Daniel in it by telephoning Miranda. Cue the obligatory mid-life marital bust-up and the dreaded D-word. Daniel finds himself in court with a judge passing sentence on him - 90 days to prove he is worthy of joint custody of his children or else: in the interim, Saturday-only visits. Faced with limited options, he gets himself an apartment, gets a job and sets out to impress his case worker. Then, he finds out that Miranda is planning to employ a housekeeper to look after the children and house during the afternoon and evening until Miranda returns from work.

    Desperate for more time with his children, Daniel makes the natural choice of gaining the job, which he does by slightly devious means. Thus is born Mrs Doubtfire, the almost perfect housekeeper who miraculously gets everything working almost to perfection, although watching wealthy Stu Dunmire (Pierce Brosnan) muscling in on his ex-wife and children sometimes gets a little too much. The merriment continues as "she" gets the opportunity of a new career at the television station where he works.

    Just as Tootsie depended entirely on Dustin Hoffman carrying off the role of the cross-dresser, so Mrs Doubtfire depends pretty much entirely upon Robin Williams carrying off the role of the cross-dresser. Since Robin Williams is an extremely talented actor, even if perhaps not so talented chooser of roles, there was little doubt that he had the ability to carry off the role. However, the film was to a large extent made by the performance of Sally Field playing off Robin Williams, and some of their scenes together are about as good as you can see in comedy. Pretty much the rest of the cast were along for the ride, and it would appear to have been a rather enjoyable ride, with only Harvey Fierstein being completely memorable. The direction of Chris Columbus is pretty taut and this generally is a very decent effort across the board.

    Certainly a film to be enjoyed, just not every other day in my view. There might be better around but this is still worthy of consideration.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    After about one minute of watching this transfer, the decision had been made: this is one of those anamorphically filmed efforts that tend to produce beautifully sharp and detailed transfers. Three hours later, that was confirmed by the director in his commentary. The simple review on this transfer is easy: wonderful, especially for a film that is bordering on eight years old and therefore possibly subject to some allowances in this department..

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    This really is a very typical anamorphically-filmed effort: nice and sharp (without being over-sharp), very well-detailed and with a really nice vibrant look to it. Wonderfully clear, there is little evidence here of any real grain at all. Shadow detail is generally excellent and you can pretty much forget low level noise here. Short, sweet and to the point - excellent stuff.

    The colour here is really gorgeous - nice and vibrant. The overall feel is of deep rich tones and a nice natural look about it. Skin tones seem very natural even though they are a little glossy. Blacks are nicely handled so that black dresses definitely look solidly black. There is no indication of oversaturation at all and to suggest colour bleed is to invoke the Pinocchio complex.

    There did not appear to be any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There is a slight but consistent aliasing problem in the usual problematic areas like car trims and radiators, but they are generally not that noticeable. It is a pity that this problem was not kept under control though, for it is about all that denies this transfer reference status. There are no other problems with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. I honestly don't recall seeing any film artefacts in the transfer, but I am presuming that there were certainly some, and they were just not that noticeable.

    This is an RSDL formatted DVD with the layer change coming unusually early at 17:48. Its placement is quite excellent and it sort of aids the film in some respects as it emphasizes the stern, no-nonsense demeanour of the case worker.

    Overall, this is the sort of transfer that makes DVD such a brilliant format and this is certainly an effort that I would pull out to show people how much better DVD is.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Whilst some might complain about the lack of a full Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack on the DVD. I would rate the decision to go with only a Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack a good one by Fox: this is certainly not a film that would have benefited an awful lot from the additional bass channel.

    There are just the two soundtracks on offer on this DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.0 effort as well as an Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. Again, the choice of a mono soundtrack for the solo audio commentary is not necessarily a bad one by Fox.

    The dialogue is generally very clear and easy to understand throughout, and there are no audio sync problems in the transfer - beyond those inherent in animation, which starts the film.

    The musical score comes from Howard Shore and a decent enough effort it is too. Whilst not exactly the most individual or memorable effort ever heard, it is nicely supportive of the film and adds the right touches to the more sombre moments of the film.

    With the bass channel being absent from the film completely, it is just a matter of sitting back and enjoying a good, if not especially distinctive Dolby Digital 5.0 soundtrack. The surround channel usage, especially through the rears could perhaps have been a tad more distinctive since there is ample opportunity for ambient sound during most of the film. Still, even that is not a huge worry here as ultimately the entire film rests upon the dialogue and characterizations of the main characters. A nice open sounding effort with nothing in the way of distortions or drop outs to worry the listener.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This effort has been slapped with the Special Edition tag although I am not certain that it is truly warranted. Sure there is the audio commentary, but the rest of the material is not exactly Special Edition stuff. The lack of a decent making of featurette is especially disappointing. However, it should be noted that the packaging slightly understates the actual available package as it fails to mention the presence of the full animation sequence.

Menu

    Themed pretty much in accordance with the slick cover, the menus are rather incongruously the only part of the extras package that are 16x9 enhanced. Some animation or audio enhancement would not have gone astray here at all.

Interviews - Cast (8:05)

    Basically a collection of short interview segments spliced together into a sort of coherent whole, based around a few common questions. Nothing too exciting here and falls into the trap of fawning over the talents of the main star a little. Presented in a Full Frame format, it comes with a nice sounding Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and is of excellent technical quality. Harvey Fierstein drops the clanger that tells you this was recorded for the Laserdisc release of the film and presumably therefore the whole extras package is a recycling of the Laserdisc release.

Featurette - Comments From Chuck Jones (4:25)

    For those who do not know who Chuck Jones is, hang your heads in shame and enrol instantly in Remedial Animation 101. He is of course the main man behind many of the great Warner Brothers animated cartoons, and provided the original animation sequence specially created for the film. Presented in the same style as the cast interviews, it suffers from being far too short! Very consistently presented in Full Frame format, with a nice sounding Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and of excellent technical quality.

Featurette - Original Pencil Test Of Animation Sequence (2:16)

    This is the shortish test for the animation sequence conceived by Chuck Jones and as an added bonus includes the dialogue recorded by Robin Williams for the test. Whilst quite a bit shorter than the final sequence, all the basic parameters are established here. Interesting stuff presented in Full Frame format, with a decent enough Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and reasonable quality for what it is.

Featurette - Final Animation Sequence (4:58)

    This is the full animation sequence conceived by Chuck Jones that was unfortunately somewhat reduced in the final version of the film. Nonetheless, it is terrific to see the whole thing in its entirety and a very nice inclusion, especially as it illustrates that it was indeed an entire animated cartoon. Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, it has a nice Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and is of excellent quality.

Featurette - Make Up Test (4:04)

    After a short introduction by Robin Williams, the bulk of the featurette is video footage shot to test the make-up for Mrs Doubtfire in what almost amounts to a screen test. Gives you a chance to see Robin Williams goofing around a little as they not only tested the make-up but tested out the voice for the character. Presented in Full Frame format, it has a reasonable Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and is of mediocre quality - but remember that the video was shot for a specific purpose and it was probably never intended to even survive, let alone appear on the DVD (or Laserdisc).

Featurette - Make Up Application (3:42)

    Again after a short introduction by Robin Williams, the bulk of the featurette is video footage shot during one of the rather lengthy make-up sessions Robin Williams had to endure every day before a twelve to fourteen hour working session. It comes with an audio commentary by make-up artist VeNeill. Presented in Full Frame format, it has a good Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and is of excellent quality.

Deleted Scenes (28:08)

    Presenting a total of 18 deleted or alternate scenes, the quality here is excellent even though the 2.35:1 aspect ratio film is not 16x9 enhanced. All of it looks, and generally sounds, like completed film, so presumably these were late cuts. Some of it nicely fills out story detail whilst the rest demonstrates exactly why it was cut. Excellent quality stuff although some suffers noticeably from aliasing. The Dolby Digital 2.0 sound is very good.

Theatrical Trailer (1:59)

    Basically your typical 2 minute summation of the film that broadly speaking gives away most of the best bits about the film. Presented in Full Frame format with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Audio Commentary - Chris Columbus (Director)

    Probably more useful for the film maker with some nice information detailing the reasons behind certain technical aspects of the film (for example why they shot it anamorphically), this is not the greatest effort I have ever heard, nor is it the worst I have ever heard. He thankfully does not feel the need to be a motor mouth and does not mind shutting up to let the film do the talking. Overall, probably worth a listen but I am not too sure how many times you would want to return to it.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There does not appear to be any significant difference between the Region 1 and Region 4 releases apart from one relatively important matter: the Region 1 release is not 16x9 enhanced. Accordingly, Region 1 is to be avoided and Region 4 is a definite winner here.

Summary

    Mrs Doubtfire is an excellent family comedy, with some serious undertones that have been nicely handled. As long as you do not want to watch it ad infinitum, well worth considering as the video transfer is excellent and the audio and extras package are above average. A film that does better with occasional viewings rather than repeated viewings.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, March 05, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

Other Reviews
Dark Horizons - Garth F
Web Wombat - James A
DVD Net - Amy F

Comments (Add)
Family Fun Edition - A.N.U (read my bio)