Blu-ray Review: Mr. Mom: Collector's Edition | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Mr. Mom: Collector’s Edition

Studio: Shout! Factory

Sep 06, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Whenever I told family that I would be staying home with our then-newborn daughter, I was almost sure to hear the same question: “Have you seen Mr. Mom?”

I hadn’t. Over the decades, Mr. Mom seems to have slipped down the John Hughes totem. It’s not one of the writer-director’s canonical ‘80s classics, such as The Breakfast Club, Vacation, or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and receives less love than nostalgic fan favorites like Home Alone, Uncle Buck, or Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Watching it for the first time in Shout! Factory’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray, it’s understandable – this is probably third-tier Hughes. It won’t find its way onto any top ten lists of the filmmaker’s work, but it’s far more enjoyable than the bulk of his ‘90s credits, and is anchored by a fun performance from a baby-faced Michael Keaton, an excellent supporting cast, and a few truly funny, off-the-wall scenes.

Keaton plays Jack Butler, a happily married auto executive and father of three in suburban Detroit. A casualty of the economic downturn, Jack is let go from his job and unable to land on his feet. His doting wife, Caroline (Tootsie’s Teri Garr), is able to resume a career in advertising which she had left behind when she became a mother. This leaves Jack as a clueless and increasingly sullen homemaker. As the new Mr. Mom struggles to keep up with their children and the household chores, Caroline becomes her ad agency’s star employee, fully assuming her husband’s old role in the family and bringing some tension between the two of them.

Released in 1983, Mr. Mom was only Hughes’ second screenwriting credit (after the deservedly forgotten National Lampoon movie, Class Reunion), which he famously based on his own lack of prowess after his wife returned to work and he found himself taking care of their kids. Besides Keaton, the cast is a showcase of other great comedic actors in early roles: Martin Mull as Caroline’s slimy boss, Jeffrey Tambor as Jack’s slimy boss, and Christopher Lloyd as one of Jack’s former coworkers. The film was directed by Stan Dragoti (Love at First Bite) but was an Aaron Spelling production, so there’s very much a late ‘70s, early ‘80s television sitcom feel to the film. The Muzak-y score sounds as dated as they come, but it does do a good job in establishing just what decade it is where this film takes place.

Speaking of dated elements, Mr. Mom is chock full of them. While we have to assume that by 2017 statistics mothers are still overwhelmingly the primary caregivers and homemakers in a family’s household, it’s something that has been changing over the past three decades. It’s no secret that more and more fathers are becoming stay-at-home dads, and more and more mothers are the ones bringing home a household’s primary paycheck. In Mr. Mom, though, Jack being a stay-at-home dad is 85% of the joke: the bulk of the punchlines are effectively, “Hey, look at this dad try to change the baby!” or “Ho, ho, ho. A man in the grocery store? My heavens!” Mr. Mom is, in parts, hilarious – most often when it’s Jack coming to terms with his self-image in a role that he feels is emasculating, rather than in scenes built upon flimsy jokes about his ineptitude as a parent, or in the home environment. In those moments, the movie is kind of insulting, not only to men who stay at home with their kids, but to any dad who has ever changed a diaper or cooked breakfast for their children.

Shout! Factory’s Collector’s Edition – spine number 28 in their growing Shout Select line of cult movies – offers a solid Blu-ray presentation. Extra features include a nice looking-back documentary with producer Lauren Shuler Donner and members of the cast, as well as the movie’s original theatrical trailer.


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