Mr. Mom Blu-ray Review: Role Reversal Comedy Has Few Laughs

Stan Dragoti’s Mr. Mom is what happens when someone decides that a sitcom with its premise might not have much shelf life on television networks and is probably better suited for the big screen with a 90-minute runtime. Its theme music even has that feel like we’re watching the opening credits for something that would air during the Thursday night comedy lineup on one of the big networks. In reality, it doesn’t even really work as a feature film.

Granted, this John Hughes-penned comedy is essentially what launched Michael Keaton into stardom and proved that he is both quick on his timing and a strong lead actor. Even when the material becomes a bit too wacky, Keaton handles it like a professional, and, in turn, makes even some of the most overwrought scenes a delight to watch.

Released back in 1983, Mr. Mom focuses on what happens when a husband is laid off from his job, and his wife (Teri Garr) decides to enter back into the workforce, which, in turn, makes him the homemaker and her the breadwinner. During this era, it was practically uncommon for men to be the ones who stay at home while their wives go off to work. Nowadays, not so much, but with Hughes having based the story on his experiences as a stay-at-home dad, there may still be a sense of relevance for those who are taking on the position for the first time in 2018.

Although this was my initial viewing of the film, it was pretty clear to see that some of the jokes are dated. One example being Keaton’s character, Jack, not knowing how to properly load the washing machine and then later having to fight off the wavering water from the disconnected hoses. Jack’s battle with the hoses is funny, since it’s a simply ridiculous moment that is bolstered by Keaton’s charm. But his ignorance when it comes to loading the washer is not funny. It comes off as more of an old stereotype than it does a clever joke.

Whenever we don’t see Jack trying to figure out how to change a diaper or cook meals for the kids, most of which result in crazy hijinks taking place, the film tends to lose its momentum. A lot of this happens when his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), has to deal with her scumbag boss, Ron (Martin Mull), as she tries to work her way up in the company for which she now works. Garr and Mull are both very funny people, but even they can’t save some of the cumbersome material that comes with this subplot.

Although funny and possibly relatable for the stay-at-home dads out there, Mr. Mom is lacking in cohesiveness, as it tries to throw in all the possible situations that could go wrong when it comes to a man taking over the duties that are usually done by women. There are certain moments that do work, but they’re scattered in a film that puts its sole focus on hijinks and tends to forget about giving people a reason to truly care for the characters involved. By the end, one may wonder how it would all turn out if it took all of these moments and did put them into a long-running television sitcom that gave its characters more time to grow and learn from the situations at hand.

Mr. Mom comes to Blu-ray for the first time ever via Shout Select, and it’s somewhat disappointing for those who are collectors. The picture quality is fine, but on a high-definition television, it’s pretty easy to spot some of the dirt and grain that was missed when it came to remastering the picture. The sound is acceptable, as the dialogue comes in clear, and, even though the music is appalling, it sounds fine coming through the speakers.

The only special features on the single disc are the film’s original theatrical trailer and a 36-minute look back on the movie with some of the actors. None of them are Keaton or Garr; it’s mostly the actors who played the children, such as Frederick Koehler and Taliesin Jaffe, and some who played the friends of Caroline’s in the movie.

Mr. Mom came out right as Hughes was starting to get noticed in the film world and just one year before he took up the directorial reigns with Sixteen Candles. This is not one of his better works, but it has its moments and does contain some great performances from Keaton and the supporting cast.

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David Wangberg

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