As we all know too well, Mrs. Doubtfire — the seminal Robin Williams-wearing-women’s-clothing comedy — has been officially given a sequel by Fox 2000. Both Williams and the original’s director, Chris Columbus, are on board in the same positions they held last time around. Screenwriter Bonnie Hunt, however, has been replaced with David Berenbaum, of Elf fame (also Zoom, The Haunted Mansion and The Spiderwick Chronicles fame, which might seem a little less impressive).
We all know the decades-later sequel drill. Some get angry, some get excited, some just shake their heads and mumble something cynical about the Hollywood system (For example: the various child actors from Mrs. Doubtfire). But Mrs. Doubtfire 2 isn’t like all the other sequels: it exists under special story circumstances. One can’t just re-womanize Robin Williams and call it a day, like you could with, say an Independence Day sequel (an off-brand Will Smith punches another alien, smirks, “Welcome to Earth… again!” and winks at the camera- cue fireworks and standing ovations).
Mrs. Doubtfire ended with every loose end wrapped up. The ex and kids know their sweet old Scottish nanny is a hairy, middle-aged man in a fat suit. So does an exceedingly large portion of the population, now that Mrs. Doubtfire has her own TV show. I’m guessing that somewhere in the Euphegenia’s House credits, there’s probably a phrase like “And Daniel Hillard as Euphegenia Doubtfire,” thus ruining the mystique for any eight-year-old fan who sticks around to read the credits.
I’m not the first person to have these doubts. Besides the general majority of the internet-going population, two individuals in particular have spent the last few years talking down a Mrs. Doubtfire sequel. One would be Robin Williams:
And the other, Christopher Columbus.
I’m sensing a pattern here.
Both men have strong feelings towards the character — Williams waxes poetic about her voice, and Columbus misses her good old-fashioned practical effects face (I’m going on the record and saying that any attempts at CGIing Mrs. Doubtfire’s face should be abandoned immediately, then hurled into the sun).
But both of them also realize the downside to another movie. Columbus won’t make the movie without a good story and a real reason for doing so, saying, “it’s not like Big Momma’s House or something.” And Williams mentions they’ve tried to write a sequel three times, and the end result is always a bust. Somehow, the powers that be must have gotten it right this time, if both naysayers have changed their minds.
In a world where everyone already knows who Mrs. Doubtfire is, though… what can you do? Columbus mentions Big Momma’s House as a worst-case scenario for man-in-drag sequels, but it’s also kind of an only-case scenario. Outside of Martin Lawrence’s portly female persona, no cross-dressing film (where the cross-dressing is both a surprise and central to the plot) has ever gotten a sequel. Well, Big Momma’s House and Psycho, actually (They’re a great pair, aren’t they?).
So unlike Tootsie, Some Like it Hot and White Chicks, where the big secret is destroyed and so are any thoughts of sequelizing, we have a little bit of precedent for Secret Cross-Dresser Movie Part II. And what happens in these particular movies?
- In Big Momma’s House 2, Malcom Turner/Big Momma goes undercover with a new family. One that has no idea he’s really a dude.
- In Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, Malcom Turner dons his Big Momma persona to do some policing at an all-girls’ school, and shames his stepson into draggin’ it up alongside him.
- In Psycho II, several other women dress up as Norma Bates, in an attempt to make Norman more (or less) crazy, respectively.
- Psycho III, IV, and all the other incarnations that followed don’t do a whole lot with the “Norman in drag” thing so we can just put those aside.
So given the options we’ve had previously, Mrs. Doubtfire 2 has two basic paths to branch off of. A new character, like Big Momma’s stepson or Norman Bates’ female admirers, step(s) into his pudgy Irish persona. Or Williams stays on as Euphegenia, and finds a new family that is unaware of his truer, hairier self. And given that Williams is already set for the sequel (and that no one would care about a Mrs. Doubtfire movie where someone else is playing Mrs. Doubtfire), common sense says the sequel will build off some new group that doesn’t know who she is.
I have no idea who that would be. Or why he would be invading their lives. But hopefully Williams and Columbus and Berenbaum do. Because if we have to have a Mrs. Doubtfire sequel — and it looks like we might — I’d like it to stay as far away from Big Momma’s House 2 territory as possible.