It is the early 1980s, and the United States is in a recession. Jack Butler (Michael Keaton), an engineer at a Detroit auto manufacturing plant, carpools into work each day with his boss (Jeffrey Tambor) and two co-workers (Christopher Lloyd, Tom Leopold). There have been rumors of layoffs, and all of the men are nervous. So when Jack ultimately learns that he has been “furloughed”, it’s not too big of a shock. However, he and wife Caroline (Teri Garr) have two young boys and a new baby girl at home, so they can’t afford to be without a paycheck for long. While Jack struggles to find a new job, Caroline gets an offer for a position at an advertising agency in the city. So now it becomes Jack’s turn to be a stay-at-home dad and run the household while Caroline brings home the bacon. But, both of them are in for a bit of a culture shock and some crazy new experiences.
Jack quickly discovers that there is a lot of juggling involved in taking care of the kids and managing the household chores. Taking the kids to school, going grocery shopping, cooking dinner and cleaning the house are all new adventures that he struggles with at first. However, it isn’t long until he finds his groove, becoming obsessed with daytime soaps and gabbing with the neighborhood housewives—and he soon becomes the target of neighborhood divorcee Joan (Ann Jillian), who is on the prowl.
Meanwhile, Caroline also struggles at first in her new work environment, feeling a bit like a fish out of water. She often finds herself falling into her mothering habits—cleaning up the trash in the conference room, and even cutting her boss’ steak into small bites. However, she has good ideas and boss Ron (Martin Mull) takes a liking to her—though his feelings for her push professional boundaries.
Mr. Mom finds many comedic moments, blending situational comedy with physical humor, as it explores these two fish-out-of-water stories. It primarily focuses on Jack’s misadventures in cleaning and childcare seeing as that is the title of film, but also has a lot of fun with Caroline’s new work life. However, the film also has some more dramatic moments—there is this looming threat of potential infidelity by Jack or Caroline that builds over the course of the film. While they seem like a happy couple, you never know what might happen under the stress or excitement of their new roles.
It had probably been a good 20 years since I had last saw this film before checking out the Blu-ray. I think the movie holds up well, even though the pacing felt a bit slower than today’s comedies. I enjoyed a lot of the humor, but I never really found any laugh-out-loud moments. Also, it was a much more dramatic film than I had remembered it being, exploring people dealing with a recession, losing their jobs, the threat of infidelity, etc. I guess maybe when I first saw the film, I didn’t really have any connection to or concern about these types of topics, and just enjoyed the movie more for Michael Keaton’s crazy antics. That said, I think this blend of drama and humor works well, and helps to to keep the zaniness a little more grounded—though there is a really fun soap opera like dream sequence.
Shout! Factory’s new transfer for this Blu-ray is quite stellar. The picture looks crisp and clean, without any excessive grain or dirt. This is easily the best the film has ever looked! The audio, on the other hand, was a bit disappointing. The disc includes both the original theatrical mono track as well as a new 5.1 audio track. The 5.1 audio track didn’t sound all that different from the mono track. In a couple spots there was this echoing of the dialogue that was present in both audio tracks, but more noticeable in the 5.1 track.
Unfortunately this release isn’t as packed with bonus features as we’ve come to expect from the Shout Select line. However, it does include a brand new, really entertaining 36-minute retrospective with a producer and some of the cast members (though none of the film’s major stars). The film’s theatrical trailer is also included. In the original press release for this Blu-ray there was mention of a Mr. Mom TV movie—it’s a shame that didn’t end up getting included—I’m assuming there must have been sort of rights issue.
The Blu-ray disc comes packed in a standard HD keepcase, along with a slipcover—the only other Shout! Select title to include one so far, besides Bill & Ted. The cover insert for the Blu-ray is reversible, giving the viewer a choice in how to display this title in his or her collection. The alternate view can be seen below. (Note: The white dot in the artwork below is due to a hole punch in our review copy—the released version does not have this.)
- Whatever It Takes: Looking Back at Mr. Mom (36:00)
Brand new interview with producer Lauren Shuler Donner and co-stars Ann Jillian (“Joan”), Miriam Flynn (“Annette”), Frederick Koehler (“Alex Butler”) and Taliesin Jaffe (“Kenny Butler”). The participants discuss the film’s premise, how the movie came about, casting and working with Michael Keaton and Teri Garr, working with child actors, working with director Stan Dragoti, finding the right house, and more. The participants also share their favorite memories and lots of fun stories from their time on set. While it’s an interesting retrospective look at the film, I wish they had also been able to get the three major stars to also participate.
- Original Theatrical Trailer (1:31)
Mr. Mom is an entertaining film that holds up quite well 30+ years later. It features some great comedic performances by Michael Keaton, Teri Garr and the supporting cast. While the Blu-ray’s audio track isn’t very impressive, the new video transfer looks amazing, and makes an easy recommendation to upgrade for any fans of the film! The disc also includes an entertaining retrospective feature. This is a classic film that’s worth checking out on this fantastic-looking Blu-ray—it was a much a different viewing experience watching the film again as an adult.