The Importance of Good Casting
I’m sorry to say I missed Mr. Mom when it came out. This despite the fact that 1) 80s comedies are my thing and 2) 80s comedies WRITTEN AND/OR DIRECTED BY JOHN HUGHES are particularly my thing. (BTW, one of the great things about this blog is I learn a bit about film luminaries. John Hughes is certainly one and he is from… Lansing! No wonder all of his movies always had a Midwestern bent.) In any event, despite its incredibly dated comedic premise, Mr. Mom holds up.
The incredibly dated comedic premise: Dad stays home with kids, Mom goes to work. Hilarious! But it actually is. Part of the reason the film still works is the casting. Both Michael Keaton, as the Dad who loses his job in an auto downsizing, and Terri Garr, as the Mom who goes back to work, are great. The jokes may be stereotypical but they are funny (Dad doesn’t know how to do laundry, gets hooked on soap operas, plays Bridge with the girls, while Mom goes to work in power suits with floppy bow ties). Jeffrey Tambor has a bit part as an oily car guy, the kids are appealing, and … get this … the movie was actually filmed in Detroit! (this film was made before favorable tax credits reduced the practice of shooting on location). For a good time check out Mr. Mom.
Since I am now officially out of feedback about Mr. Mom, I wish to briefly ruminate on the topic of why some comedies remain funny over time while other movies that were hilarious when they came out seem impossibly dated 10 years later. I’ve long thought that comedies that are set in a prior time/genre (Animal House, Blazing Saddles, Some Like It Hot) hold up. But Mr. Mom is unabashedly dated. There are lots and lots of families nowadays in which the Mom works and the Dad stays home. This has ceased to be a sufficiently amusing premise to warrant an entire film. So why is it still funny to watch a vacuum manhandle Michael Keaton? I don’t know. Such is the alchemy of the movies.
Rating: *** (out of ****)