Sunday, November 19, 2023

"Mr. Mom" (1983)

Mr. Mom (1983) is one of those movies I grew up with -- I can't remember a first-time viewing because it seemed to be always part of our movie-watching lives.  I will add a little caveat to that, though: there is one section my parents always fast-forwarded through, and when we were very young, they made us close our eyes during one other part that might have scared us.  We'll get to those.

When Jack (Michael Keaton) loses his job working for General Motors because there's a recession on, his wife Caroline (Terri Garr) gets a job as an advertising executive.  Jack insists that he is very happy to get to stay home with their three children and spend quality time with them while Caroline has to trudge through the drudgery of the working world.

Naturally, because this is a comedy, nothing goes right for either of them.  Well, maybe not nothing, but a lot of things definitely go wrong.

Jack feeds the baby chili and has to deal with toxic diapers.  Jack discovers that Caroline has named their demonic vacuum cleaner 'Jaws' for a good reason.  (That's that part that my parents made me shut my eyes for.)  Jack gets addicted to soap operas.  Jack overloads the washing machine and it goes berserk.

Caroline contradicts her new boss in front of an important client.  Caroline's fresh and new advertising ideas make her the darling of said client, which means all her co-workers resent her.  Caroline's boss makes passes at her.

Caroline's best friend makes passes at Jack.  Said best friend and some other ladies take him to a male strip club (that's the part my parents skipped for us), and then the (erstwhile) best friend tries to seduce Jack.  

However!  With love, kindness, occasional dollops of patience, and a great deal of willingness to forgive and move forward, Jack and Caroline and their kids move through this season of turmoil and have a bright future ahead by the time the movie ends.

One of my favorite things about this movie, as an adult, is how much pop culture gets referenced in this movie.  I didn't really get most of that as a kid because we didn't engage with pop culture much at that time.  But now I understand the references to JawsRocky, Chariots of Fire, The Young and the Restless and so on, and that adds an extra layer of fun to the whole comedic shebang.

Another thing I love about this movie is the way it plays with gender stereotypes.  Jack isn't bad at parenting so much because he is male, but because of the kind of person he is -- he's an engineer, so he tends to get obsessive over details and miss what else is going on around him.  Caroline is good at advertising not because she's female, but because she's great at combining ideas and finding unusual or quirky angles to approach things from.  There's plenty of humor about Jack not knowing how to use common household appliances, but let's face it -- who among us hasn't been stumped by the instructions on a machine we have never used before?

Over all, Mr. Mom is a funny, heartwarming, ultimately hope-filled good time.

This has been my contribution to the Familyathon Blogathon hosted by 18 Cinema Lane this weekend.


  1. Wonderful review and thanks for participating in my blogathon! I love when movies add "Easter Eggs", as it helps the audience become engaged in what they are watching! I reviewed 2012's 'Frankenweenie', which incorporated references to both Tim Burton and Disney. One of these "Easter Eggs" referenced 1989's 'Batman', which starred Michael Keaton.

    1. Thanks, Sally! Yes, it always delights me when movies reference other movies, or make other cultural references. The Lego Movie makes me laugh a lot by doing that over and over.

  2. Sounds like a cute movie!

    For some reason, I had it firmly in my head that "Mr. Mom" was not a comedy, but was instead a movie about a man whose wife dies and he's forced to take on the household manager/childcare roles out of necessity. So I am relieved to hear the mom is not dead, but is very much alive and thriving in the advertising industry!

    1. Katie, oh my! No, the mom doesn't die, she just gets a job and then has to go on some business trips. Definitely a comedy!

  3. I've heard of this one but kind of passed it by for some reason. It sounds fun!

    1. Rebecca, it was quite popular when it came out, but it seems to have fallen into obscurity over the years. It's definitely fun :-)


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