By Julia Emmanuele, Hollywood Staff
It's been more than 20 years since we last spent time with that hilarious Scottish nanny, but Mrs. Doubtfire is finally making her way back to the big screen. Fox announced today that Mrs. Doubtfire 2 is officially in the works, with both Robin Williams and director Chris Columbus on board. The idea of a sequel was teased in 2001, when Bonnie Hunt was hired to write the script. From there, the project cycled through various screenwriters and drafts before they finally found the right screenplay, courtesy of Elf writer David Berenbaum. But while fans of the film are likely thrilled by the news of a sequel, it does raise a very important question: Why on earth would Daniel Hillard dress up like Mrs. Doubtfire again?
At the end of the first film, not only has he been reunited with his children - who now know that he was the kindly old lady who was looking after them this whole time - but he was also given his own children's television show based on the character. This isn't just another instance of a movie's fans being wary of a sequel tarnishing the original's image; it genuinely makes no sense whatsoever for him to don that costume again.
Thanks to the 20 year time difference, Lydie, Chris, and Natalie are now adults, so the issue of custody is no longer applicable. The most logical and obvious direction for a sequel to take would be for Daniel to be estranged from one of his children, and for him to disguise himself in order to spend time with his grandchildren. But Lydie, Chris, and Natalie not only know what Mrs. Doubtfire looks like, thanks to the time she spent babysitting them, but are also likely to be suspicious of any distinctive-looking U.K.-born septuagenarians who apply for a housekeeping job. They know his game, and he wouldn't be able to trick them any more.
And thanks to his popular children's show, Daniel would have a hard time tricking random people into buying his Mrs. Doubtfire act as well. If they were old enough to have children when Euphegenia's House was on the air (and since it was supposedly incredibly popular, it probably ran for a long time) they would recognize the character, and would be suspicious of a celebrity wanting to look after their children. Anyone who was a child when he was on the air, but is now old enough to have children would also be able to recognize him, and therefore he wouldn't have any luck with that generation either.
Plus, if Euphegenia's House was popular as the film's ending implied it to be, the general public would likely be aware that Mrs. Doubtfire is actually a character played by Daniel Hillard. If, for some reason, they didn't know about Daniel's celebrity status or his alter ego, it would only be a matter of time before they found out, as no parent would hire someone to look after their children without at least doing a cursory Google search first. There's no way there isn't a Wikipedia page dedicated to Euphegenia's House or Daniel Hillard in this universe. If the original story is outlandish enough to make a good movie, then it would definitely make for some entertaining Internet reading.
So, if the logical plots wouldn't work, then what options does Mrs. Doubtfire 2 have? The best one would be for the script to explore the television angle, as the familial conflict was solved over the course of the first film. Maybe Daniel and the network are trying to re-launch or reboot Euphegenia's House, and so he needs to return to his old character in order to get the show back off the ground. Perhaps, by some unlikely twist of fate, Mrs. Doubtfire's real identity has been kept secret for all of these years, and now a reporter or TV executive is looking to out her. It's even possible that there could be some kind of producer or network president who never managed to figure out Daniel's alter ego, and now he or she wants to bring the show back, and insists on meeting Euphegenia herself.
In a more far-fetched scenario, we could even see Mrs. Doubtfire 2 having Daniel open a housekeeping or child-minding business under her name - after all, she's the one with the stellar references, not him - and then attempting to keep people from figuring out that Mrs. Doubtfire isn't who she claims to be. Unfortunately, that story, while rife with comedic opportunity, would have its own complications. Namely, the fact that strangers would be less likely to allow this strange, duplicitous manchild-in-a-dress to watch their children than Daniel's ex-wife was. At least then he was only endangering his own children.
But while the first film worked based on the relationship Daniel had with his children, there just isn't a reason for Mrs. Doubtfire to make reappearance. Sure, it might be interesting to watch Daniel deal with the popularity of his television show, but that drastically cuts down on the amount of screen time that Mrs. Doubtfire gets, as well as limiting the amount of hijinks and wacky scenarios that she could find herself in. Both Daniel and Mrs. Doubtfire are great film characters, and it's no surprise that both studios and audiences want to see more of them, but the first film simply wrapped everything up too neatly for that to make any sense. We're sure that Berenbaum's script will have taken all of these questions into consideration. After all, Williams has often said that he wouldn't sign on to a sequel if the script wasn't right, so there must be something in Mrs. Doubtfire 2 that makes sense. But until we find out what just what kind of story that script tells, we're going to hold off on buying our movie tickets.
Of course, if it turns out that Mrs. Doubtfire gets a partner-in-crime named Mrs. Featherbottom, then we might be willing to ignore any lingering doubts we might have.