Michael Keaton (Batman) stole Night Shift from Henry Winkler in the summer of 1982. He was the fast talking, imaginative hustler working in the morgue under Winkler. But was he really the real deal? There have been plenty of actors who had that great scene stealing supporting role that crashed and burned when they were given the spotlight. Think of Tom Arnold post-True Lies. So there was a curiosity factor the following summer when Keaton was title role in Mr. Mom. Could he avoid being upstaged by cute kids and Jeffrey Tambor? Mr. Mom: Collector’s Edition is the proof that there’s a reason why nearly 30 years later, Keaton remains a star.
Jack Butler (Keaton) is doing well for himself as an engineer at a car company. He has a great wife (Terri Garr) and three kids. His carpool features Christopher Lloyd (Taxi) and Jeffrey Tambor (The Larry Sanders Show). Everything is going fine until he gets swept up in a layoff at the corporation. He struggles hard to land a new gig and nothing clicks. His wife decides to get back into advertising and quickly lands a well paying job at an agency. Since he’s still looking, he gets the responsibility of staying at home and raising the kids. Since he’d been so busy with work, he has no clue how to take care of anything at home. Jack juggles the depression of being unwanted and the learning curve of what you need to do to take care of the kids. Jack makes his son’s grilled cheese sandwich without taking a break from the ironing board. He deals with other guys viewing him as less a man since he’s now a homemaker. Most of this battle comes from dealing with his wife’s boss (Serial & Fernwood 2 Night‘s Martin Mull). He fears his wife will view him as less a man and go for her boss. Can a guy stay home and raise the kids without losing his macho vibe?
Mr. Mom remains a smart and enjoyable comedy after these decades because there’s so much talent being properly used on the screen. Keaton’s chops and timing are excellent. He’s does a lot of crazy little things that still get a laugh such a using the baby’s bottle to put milk in his morning coffee. Terri Garr is able to float between being the mother and the businesswoman as the story develops. Tambor is able to be a scared jerk. Ann Jillian (The Ann Jillian Story) is sweetly seductive as the neighbor who flirts with the daddy that’s left alone during the day. There’s even a fantastic cameo from Patti Deutsch (Match Game) as a supermarket employee who reminds us all that deli meats and cheeses are so complicated. John Hughes (Sixteen Candles) wrote a script based on his own time having to reverse roles with his wife so there’s honest moments recreated on the screen. This was the summer when Hughes became a comedy giant since also playing in the Cineplex was National Lampoon’s Vacation with his script. He was able to use this clout to get into the world of directing. Director Stan Dragoti (Love at First Bite) allows the script and the actors to work without being overwhelmed with camera moves and editing tricks. The camera often is set up in the right spot and the actors are allowed to do their magic.
As a guy who once held the position of Mr. Mom, there are so many moments that are relatable. He’s patron saint of those of us who struggled with figuring out how to be the best housekeeper and nanny. He’s the spirit animal for any father who pondered the right way to drive in the school carpool line or wrangle a toddler in a supermarket. Mr. Mom: Collector’s Edition pays proper tribute to an iconic role.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer brings out those early ’80s details. Even the smoke filled boardroom comes over fine. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA Surround Sound. You can clearly hear the disasters as Keaton tackles the world of motherhood including the vacuum cleaner from hell. There’s also the original theatrical mono mix if you want to go solo speaker. The movie is subtitled.
Whatever It Takes: Looking Back at Mr. Mom (36:00) looks back at the film with the kids, neighbors and producer Lauren Shuler Donner. The kids remember enjoying their time with Keaton.
Trailer (1:31) sets up the comedy elements of Keaton dealing with kids.
Shout! Factory presents Mr. Mom: Collector’s Edition. Directed by:
Stan Dragoti. Screenplay by: John Hughes. Starring: Michael Keaton, Teri Garr, Martin Mull, Ann Jillian & Christopher Lloyd. Running Time: 91 minutes. Rated: PG. Released: September 5, 2017.
Tags: Michael Keaton, Mr. Mom, Shout Select