Disney+ has picked up one of Robin Williams' most iconic yet most controversial movies: Mrs. Doubtfire. The streaming app created a listing for Mrs. Doubtfire to tease its release, but it's not actually available yet. It reads: "Due to existing agreements this title will be available on August 6, 2021."
Williams plays a recently divorced father willing to go to any lengths to spend time with his children in Mrs. Doubtfire, including dressing up as an elderly woman and posing as their nanny. The movie is full of slapstick gags and real familial pathos. It was also lauded in its time for its positive depiction of homosexuality, however, in recent years as the collective attitude towards transgender people has shifted, the movie has come under fresh criticism.
Mrs. Doubtfire was released in 1993 and has endured as one of the most emblematic performances of Williams' career. He played Daniel Hillard, while Sally Field played his ex-wife Miranda Hillard. Pierce Brosnan played Miranda's new boyfriend, Stu, and their children were played by Lisa Jakub, Matthew Lawrence and Mara Wilson.
The movie was written by Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon, and directed by Chris Columbus. It was based on a novel called Alias Madame Doubtfire by English author Anne Fine. At the time of this writing, Mrs. Doubtfire does not appear to be available on any subscription-based streaming service in the U.S., so it is unclear what "existing agreements" are holding up its release on Disney+. The movie is available on digital stores like Amazon Prime Video and Vudu, however.
Viewers sensitive about homophobic or transphobic jokes may want to be wary of revisiting Mrs. Doubtfire in any venue, however. The movie is not unkind to its gay and gender-non-conforming characters directly, but it does fall into some pitfalls of its time. Last year, writer Alex Mell-Taylor wrote an op-ed about their conflicted feelings on the movie in hindsight, acknowledging that they had watched it over and over again when they were young because "it was one of the few mainstream movies that had actual queer representation, and in the smallest of ways, I felt seen."
Mell-Taylor would go on to write: "The painful thing about Mrs. Doubtfire is that it's a movie uplifting so much (e.g., gay people, varied family structures, etc.) at the expense of trans people. When you comb through the narrative closely, a lot of the humor is centered around how peculiar it is for Daniel to be in a dress, and that is not a perspective that honors varying gender identities but lampoons them."
Still, Mell-Taylor's essay proves how much there is to be gained from a critical retrospective study of Mrs. Doubtfire, especially as a sign of how far society has come on this issue. Mrs. Doubtfire will be streaming on Disney+ starting on Aug. 6. You can get a free trial to the service here.