“I’m placing an ad for a housekeeper.” “Hello? Are your kids well behaved?” “You remind me of someone..” “You will follow a schedule.” “Those who do not follow the schedule will be punished..” “We’ve got to dial 911 now!” “H̷͉̠͒͠e̸̩̹̻͗̿͠͝ľ̸̗͈̘̩l̷̳̞͓͊o̴̖͈͌͆͛̓ !” Hello, internet! Welcome to FILM THEORY! removing the nostalgia glasses from your eyes and grinding them under our digital video heel every week On the chopping block today, the beloved 1993 family comedy, Mrs. Doubtfire. Which, if you grew up in the 90’s, you’ll understand that ‘beloved’ is an understatement. This thing was a STAPLE in everyone’s VHS collections. A yearly, if not daily watch for a lot of kids around the country. Like most of Robin William’s movies it was an instant classic. Simultaneously hilarious and heart-warming in that unique way that only he could do. For those of you who haven’t seen the film before, here’s the brief overview: Robin Williams, AKA Daniel Hillard, is a talented voice actor living with his wife Miranda, and three kids in San Francisco, California Early on in the film Miranda files for divorce after Daniel throws a wild birthday party for their son. Because he doesn’t have a regular job or place to live, the family court grants primary custody to Miranda, only allowing Daniel to have visitation rights for a few hours every week. Daniel, devastated that he can’t see his kids everyday, does what any normal parent would do: use professional-grade prosthetics to disguise himself as an elderly British woman in order to get himself hired as his children’s nanny As you can imagine, hilarity ensues as Daniel struggles to maintain his double life. But what you were really laughing at weren’t the antics of a dedicated loving father, but really the machinations of a morally bankrupt criminal. Oh sure, he opposes advertising cigarettes to children. (Daniel) Pudgy the parrot has a cigarette shoved into his mouth is morally irresponsible Millions of kids see this cartoon as like sending each one of them a pack of cigarettes and saying, “Light up!” (MatPat) Then gives this heartfelt speech at the end of the film (Daniel) In regards to my behaviour, I can only plead insanity, because ever since my children were born, the moment I looked at them I was crazy about them. (MatPat) But I’m here today to EXPOSE Daniel, not just for his crimes, but also his behaviour, that quite honestly should warn in seeing a mental health professional. So it’s time to CRACK open those law books and find out whether Daniel Hillard will be exchanging his dress and wig for an orange jumpsuit and um.. not dropping the soap. Before we begin we have to determine which laws to use when judging Daniel’s actions throughout the film. Though it’s not officially stated, Mrs. Doubtfire is known to take place in San Francisco, California. Multiple scenes show San Francisco landmarks, and the climactic scene of the film takes place at Bridges restaurant, which is a real-life establishment located in Bay Area. Therefore, the United States, the State of California, San Francisco county, and the city of San Francisco will all have jurisdiction over Daniel. Additionally, the movie was created in 1993, so I’m gonna try to only look at laws that were on the books around that time. So now that we know which laws are applicable, let’s start going through the film. From the opening moment, Daniel’s self-destructive habits are clearly on display. The first scene has him actively sabotaging an important voice-over job. (Guy) This session is costing the studio thousands of dollars. You wanna play Gandhi, then do it on somebody else’s time! If you leave, you’re not coming back in. (Daniel, as Gandhi)
Then I’ve got to do… …what I’ve got to do. (MatPat) And he’s not wrong to walk out of this job, but at this point he chooses to spiral downward even further in his self-destructive habits, by throwing a blatantly out-of-control party for his kids. A party that he clearly recognises as against the wishes of his wife (Son) Party? (Daniel) YES! (Daughter) No! Mom said you couldn’t have one because of your report card. (Daniel) Mom’s not gonna be home for another four hours, is she? (MatPat) A party that also happens to be highly illegal. (Policeman) Are you aware that it’s illegal to possess animals of a barnyard nature in a residential area? while also responding to a noise ordinance violation. (MatPat) How illegal? Well, funny enough, I couldn’t find anything about possession of barnyard animals in a residential neighborhood on the books. However, I did find Article 1, Section 37, Clause C of the San Francisco Public Health Code. Which prohibits the possession of hooved animals within a residential district. Not exact, but pretty darn close. Both goats and horses, which are seen during the scene, would be a direct violation of this statute. Resulting in a punishment of about $100 and approximately 30 days in county jail. Since this would be his first offense, the jail time would probably be waived. And for the noise violation, Daniel would only be fined another 100 bucks as specified by Section 291y of the San Francisco Police Code. Regardless, let’s recap. In the first seven minutes, the hero of the movie has shown himself to be self-sabotaging in both his job, and in his relationship. As well as be liable for at least $200 in criminal fines and possibly 30 days in prison. Sure, the movie frames Daniel as the “Cool Dad” who’s being henpecked by his stick in the mud, workaholic wife, but the subtext here is that we have an unhappy man who rebounds from misfortune by engaging in even more self-destructive behaviors that he knows are wrong! (Wife) Don’t you dare make me have to be the monster here, Daniel! You have all the fun and I get whatever’s left over! Why am I the only one that feels there has to be rule? (MatPat) And that spiral just continues throughout the movie. This opening scene results in Miranda getting a divorce from Daniel and her winning sole custody over the kids. Because he doesn’t have a home or any form of employment, Daniel is only allowed to have visitation rights on Saturdays. (Daniel) Every Saturday, it’s one day a week. That’s not enough. (MatPat) Unhappy with the court’s ruling, Daniel devises the plan to disguise himself as a British nanny in order to trick Miranda into hiring him so he can spend more time with the kids. All this, while Miranda finds herself a new boyfriend, Stu. And this, is where the plot of the movie, and Daniel’s “crime spree” truly begin. You see, I know it was a common trope of movies, especially in the 90’s to portray step-parents as evil, But unlike other films, Stu actually makes an effort to bond with these kids, and seems very genuine about his relationship with them. One of his buddies even asks why he’s dating someone with “baggage” and he responds by saying that they’re, (Stu) Terrific kids, and I’m crazy about them. (MatPat) So what does Daniel do to this unusually good-natured boyfriend? He takes advantage of his generosity, vandalizes his car, and then nearly murders him. You know, family-friendly comedy stuff! It’s okay to kill your romantic rival and kids’ possible stepdad, In one scene, Daniel, dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire, takes the ornament off of Stu’s Mercedes. Since he, quote, endquote. It would technically be considered vandalism by the California Penal Code, and would result in a $1000 fine and potentially another year in county jail. California’s not messin’ around, you American Vandals. Never seen that show, but Phil DeFranco says it’s good. I might have to check it out. In a later scene, Daniel, once again disguised as Doubtfire, is at a bar and hears Stu criticize him as a negligent father. (Stu) What can I say, Ron? The guy’s a loser. (MatPat) Daniel responds by throwing a blindsided lime at Stu. (Daniel as Doubtfire) I saw it! Some angry member of the kitchen staff, it was a run-by fruiting! Believe it or not, this too could be considered a crime. A district attorney would likely classify it as battery. Defined as, quote: Which adds another $2000 fine and potentially 6 months of county jail time to Daniel’s growing rap sheet. But all of this is small potatoes, or should I say “small limes” when compared to Daniel’s most violent crime of the entire film, The near-murder of Stu. The movie culminates in a final, chaotic scene where Daniel has to keep shifting back and forth between his two identities. Amongst all this mayhem, Daniel takes the time to steal a chef’s jacket, sneak into the kitchen, and then add pepper to Stu’s shrimp, despite being very well aware that Stu is allergic to pepper. (Stu) I’ll have the John (inaudible). –And make mine not-spicy, I’m allergic to pepper. (MatPat) When the food is served, Stu begins to eat it, Stu immediately has himself an allergic reaction. Not a funny sort of reaction, a dangerous one. Daniel recognizes his mistake, exclaiming, (Daniel) Oh no, I killed the bastard! (MatPat) –before successfully giving him the Heimlich maneuver. Now, clearly, this is a crime. But, what sort of crime is it? Well, if Stu had died, like he was on the verge of, it would have been tried as voluntary manslaughter.
In which: In this case, Daniel sprinkling the pepper was meant to be a harmful prank, ITS JUST A PRANK, BRO But at no point did he intend to kill Stu as evidenced by him doing the Heimlich to save him. If there had been intent to kill, but still no planning, then this would have been tried as attempted second-degree murder. Regardless, no one dies. So does this mean that Daniel gets himself off scot-free? Absolutely… not. For starters, Daniel violated Section 347 of the California Penal Code, which states, quote, “Every person who willfully mingles any poison or harmful substance with any food, drink, medicine, or pharmaceutical product …where the person knows or should have known that the same would be taken by any human being to his or her injury, is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for two, four, or five years. Now clearly, Daniel knew that adding a metric ton of pepper to Stu’s dish would cause him some level of injury. So with that, we can add another 5 years to Daniel’s sentence. Other possible crimes Daniel could be on the hook for here include: Reckless endangerment, battery, And, on the extreme end, Assault with a deadly weapon. No, pepper might not *seem* like a deadly weapon, But since Daniel knew it was harmful to Stu, a lawyer could absolutely make a case for it. Which would yield a sentence of up to four years in county jail, and a fine of 10 thousand dollars. So between the party violations, vandalism, battery and poisoning, Daniel Hillard could be facing around $13,200 in fines. And an upwards of 10 years in prison. As large as that may seem, though, we still haven’t touched on his biggest crime. Ho-hoh, yeah! Almost killing his romantic rival is far from the biggest thing Daniel has to worry about. We’ve overlooked something major up to this point. So major, in fact, that it could increase Daniel’s sentence four times over. And the thing that I’ve overlooked up till now, is the point of the entire movie. You see, according to the terms of divorce announced by the judge at the beginning of the movie, Daniel Hillard is only allowed to see his children for a few hours every Saturday. For the rest of the week, Miranda has full custody. Since this divorce agreement is a legal decree, intentional violation of it is considered contempt of court. In order to be convicted of contempt of court in the state of California, the defendant must have knowledge about the order in question, and then have willfully violated that order. Now, clearly Daniel had knowledge about the divorce agreements. Since, he was present in the courtroom when it was decided. And the violation of the agreement was absolutely intentional on the part of Daniel. It’s not like the children happened to see him while he was working at the TV studio, Daniel became a nanny expressly to sneak into his former home, and see his children. This is a crystal-clear example of contempt of court. Which is punishable by a maximum sentence of 1 year in county jail, and a thousand dollar fine. But that’s not all! For some court orders, including Family court matters and restraining orders, the California Penal Code mandates that, quote, This means that each time that Daniel actively saw his kids outside of the court-mandated hours, is considered a unique offense. At the end of the film, it’s revealed that it’s been two months since the initial divorce hearing. (Daniel) Your Honor, in the past two months, I’ve secured a residence, … I’ve refurbished that residence, and made it an environment fit for children. (MatPat) At 5 days a week, for 8 weeks, Daniel would be charged with up to 40 cases of contempt of court. This alone would be upwards of 40 years in jail, and a $40,000 fine. So if you tack on all the other offences, which look gracious, in comparison now, Daniel could potentially be spending nearly 50 years, behind bars. And paying over $53,000 in legal fines. Now obviously these figures were calculated using the maximum sentencing requirements for each infraction, So it is possible that Daniel could have been given a shorter sentencing by the jury, or received parole for good behavior, However, I don’t think many jurors and judges are going to be sympathetic to a man who almost murdered someone, while dressed up as an elderly British woman So he could sneak into his house and basically Kidnap his kids, from a legal standpoint. But the worst twist of all, is that at the beginning of the movie, it’s made clear that: (Judge) I’m giving you three months, Mr. Hillard. Three months in which to get a job, Keep it, and create a suitable home. If this proves to be a possibility for you, I will consider adjoint custody arrangement when we reconvene. All he needed to do was to wait for three months and his problems would have been solved. Instead, he self-sabotages yet again. This time, actively throwing away the last remaining shred of happiness in his life, his kids. And because of his actions, the soonest that he’ll see them is when they’re ready to join AARP
(American Association of Retired Persons). You can’t even claim he was ignorant to all of this. Daniel openly recognizes what he’s doing halfway through the movie. Immediately after revealing his true identity to his kids, Daniel says: (Daniel) If she finds out, I’ll only be able to see you (MatPat) Maybe the best way to see your kids would’ve been to stay out of the clink, ya Mary Poppins reject. “Mrs. Doubtfire” isn’t the happy, family-friendly, inspiring movie that we grew up watching. It’s about one man systematically, and knowingly destroying the happiness of his life, one piece at a time. BUT HEY! That’s just a theory, A Film Theory. Aaaaaaaaaand CUT. Greetings from:
United States Penitentiary
San Francisco, CA. i’m mary poppins, y’all