You Knew My Name: The Bond, Not Bond Blogathon- Pierce Brosnan in “Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993)

I will admit that I’m not the biggest James Bond person. Not that I don’t like the films, but they’re just okay for me. It might be because I’m not a big action person. However, I have seen some of the Bond films, in fact, I’ve seen all of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films. I remember “Goldeneye” being a big thing in 1995, especially when it came to the Nintendo 64, the hot video game system of middle school. But I digress. My first introduction to Pierce was not James Bond. My first introduction to Pierce was when he played Sally Field’s new beau in Mrs. Doubtfire. I remember thinking how Sally was a lucky woman–her new boyfriend was hot!

Robin Williams, Sally Field, and Pierce Brosnan in “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

In Mrs. Doubtfire, Sally Field plays Miranda Hillard, a successful San Francisco-based interior decorator. She is married to Daniel Hillard, a freelance-voice actor, played by the late Robin Williams. At the beginning of the film, Miranda and Daniel separate after he goes way over the top in a birthday celebration for their son. It’s the last straw for Miranda, who needs a responsible, reliable husband–not another, larger, child. She and Daniel separate and Miranda files for divorce. Daniel’s hopes for shared custody is based on his finding a suitable home and reliable employment within three months.

Needing someone to help keep the house in order and to watch the children, Miranda decides that she is going to hire a housekeeper/nanny. Daniel gets wind of this and concocts a scheme to put his voice acting skills to work and apply for the position. He gets his brother Frank, a makeup artist, to create a prosthetic mask and padding to bring “Mrs. Doubtfire” (Daniel’s female alter ego) to life. Mrs. Doubtfire applies for the position, wins over Miranda, and has the job. After a couple rough days, Mrs. Doubtfire hits her stride and is soon an irreplaceable member of the family.

“It was a run-by fruiting!”

Unfortunately for Daniel, Miranda has moved onto a new beau, Stuart “Stu” Dunmeyer, played by the super hot Pierce Brosnan. Sorry Robin Williams fans, as awesome as he was, he does not compete with Pierce Brosnan in the looks department–get it, Sally Field! There is a funny scene where Stu takes Miranda and the kids to the country club to swim. Depressed at the sight of seeing another man romancing his estranged wife and children, Mrs. Doubtfire downs drinks at the bar. At one point, after hearing a rude remark made about him by Stu, he throws a lime at the back of Stu’s head, then claims there was a “run-by fruiting” when Stu turns around in anger.

I think the film tries to somewhat portray Stu as a villain for comedic effect. However, he’s not really a villain in the sense that he’s purposely doing anything bad. However, he will be the factor that will ruin Daniel’s chances at reconciliation. While Daniel is trying to improve his life and meet the court requirements for joint custody, what he wants is to be back with his family; however Stu looks like he’ll be blocking that goal. And Stu isn’t just trying to hook up with old flame Miranda. After a business associate makes a comment about Miranda “having baggage” (i.e. three children), Stu corrects him, stating that he’s crazy about Miranda and her children.

The hunky Pierce Brosnan in “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

Daniel’s behavior toward Stu reinforces Miranda’s decision to divorce him, in my opinion. Here is a grown man, who yes, is upset that Stu is taking his place as the patriarch, but he responds by throwing fruit, flipping Stu the bird, stating that Stu achieved his physique with liposuction, pulling the emblem off the hood of Stu’s Mercedes, and then truly takes things too far at Miranda’s birthday dinner. Daniel learns of Stu’s allergy to pepper. Daniel is at the restaurant to attend both a dinner/meeting with his new boss and as Mrs. Doubtfire to celebrate Miranda’s birthday. He ducks into the kitchen, finds Stu’s dinner and sprinkles pepper all over it. Stu is handed his dinner, takes a bite, and immediately starts choking. He is truly at risk of dying and Daniel finally realizes what he’s done and saves Stu’s life via the heimlich maneuver. Unfortunately for Daniel, the jig is up as Mrs. Doubtfire when his prosthetic mask is torn from his face while saving Stu. This brings us to the greatest line in the film:

MIRANDA: Oh my god! Oh my god! The whole time?! The whole time?! THE WHOLE TIME?! I have to go. We have to leave now. We have to go. I have to leave. We have to leave.

Sally Field as Miranda Hillard in “Mrs Doubtfire” (1993).

By the end of the film, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that Miranda and Stu will continue seeing one another. Thankfully, Miranda and Daniel are able to resolve their differences enough that Miranda gives Daniel the housekeeper/nanny job so that he can see his children every day after school. The children can also see their father, via his “Mrs. Doubtfire” persona, which is a new hit children’s show in the local San Francisco market. It would have been easy for the filmmakers to turn Stu into a villain, make him slimy and gross, only wanting to hook up with Miranda for sex, her money, her business, etc. But the film doesn’t do that, Stu is presented as a stand-up guy, and we as the audience aren’t disappointed that Miranda might find a new father for her children. Both she and Daniel are better off in their new arrangement. And Miranda, who at the beginning of the film expressed how unhappy and angry she was in her marriage to Daniel, and how it made her act and feel, will finally get a chance at happiness. She’s found a man who brings what she needs to the table, and we cannot help but root for her and Stu.

YES!

The “Free For All” Blogathon–“Birds in Film”

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When you think of birds in the movies, this image probably comes to mind:

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Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchock’s “The Birds” (1963). Don’t even get me started on why they chose to run out of the school when the birds started congregating on the jungle gym.  Stay inside! I like to think that the birds attacked the children because they were singing that annoying song.

Alfred Hitchock’s 1963 masterpiece, The Birds, tells the story of Bodega Bay, a small town near San Francisco, California that is dealing with violent and random bird attacks.  Crows are inexplicably attacking people in their homes, in phone booths, outside, anywhere.  The film never explains why the birds are attacking.  Hitchock purposely eschewed the use of music in the film.  The only sounds we hear aside from dialogue and natural sounds from the actions in the film are the sounds of the birds crowing.  Each time the birds appear onscreen, we know that another attack is about to happen.  The film ends with no resolution.  In Bodega Bay, the birds are still out there and are to be feared.

In The Birds, there are two birds featured in the film who are not to be feared–the lovebirds that Rob Taylor wants to purchase from Tippi Hedren (who doesn’t actually work at the bird shop, but is shopping for a cage for her myna bird).  People who own lovebirds typically purchase them in pairs, as a pair of lovebirds will bond for life.  A solitary lovebird who doesn’t have a constant companion will be very sad.  Owners can own just one lovebird, but they should be prepared to spend a lot of time with their bird.  In The Birds, I believe that these lovebirds represent Taylor and Hedren’s characters.

Hedren’s character is a bit of a wild woman who somewhat lives in a gilded cage.  She’s basically a rich socialite with little regard for others.  Due to her behavior and attitude, she’s somewhat trapped by her lifestyle.  The only reason she goes to Bodega Bay initially, is to use the lovebirds as a means to pursue Taylor.  She’s rich and isn’t used to not getting what she wants.  Taylor makes it clear to Hedren in the pet shop that she’s not interested in people of her type.

Lovebirds may represent the antithesis to the other birds in the film.  Birds don’t have to be evil or be killers–they can be sweet, wonderful companions for humans and other birds.  The lovebirds in The Birds demonstrate that maybe humanity and nature can restore harmony soon.

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The lovebirds in “The Birds.” I believe these are “rosy-faced lovebirds.”

Aside from the birds in The Birds, there are other ways birds are represented in film:

COMPANIONS

  1. Iago the Scarlet Macaw parrot in Aladdin, while an evil bird, he is a wiseacre and says what’s on his mind regardless of whether he’s talking to his master, Jafar, or mocking the Sultan.
  2. Kevin in Up is a goofy bird and the comic relief of the film.  Kevin is a made-up tropical bird who helps Carl and Russell make it to Victoria Falls.  Kevin also provides the conflict of the film.  Famed aviator Charles Muntz has been looking for Kevin’s species for years.  Kevin is like many real birds in that when she (yes “she”) feels that someone is a friend, she will be kind and loyal.  However, if she senses someone is a threat, or that person was mean to her, she’ll be hostile and combative.  Also, like real birds, Kevin is very curious and gets into everything.
  3. Hedwig in the Harry Potter series is Harry Potter’s loyal owl.  She is a constant companion for Harry through all of his adventures. She would deliver Harry’s mail, but was also a faithful friend. Hedwig also demonstrated how smart and clever birds can be.
  4. Zazu in The Lion King.  Zazu is a hornbill who is not only Mufasa’s personal assistant and adviser, but he also takes care of Simba after Mufasa’s tragic death.  Zazu’s allegiance is partially out of duty to the kingdom, but I also feel that he feels a sense of loyalty to the deceased Mufasa.  Zazu also doesn’t want to see Scar in charge.
  5. Maleficent’s black crow, who I don’t believe has a name, is as evil as evil gets.  He keeps Maleficent informed on the goings on in the fairies’ cottage and is the first one to inform Maleficent of Princess Aurora’s location when he spies magic coming up through the fairies’ chimney.

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Iago from “Aladdin” (1992)

WISDOM

  1. Owl in Winnie the Pooh dispenses advise to Winnie the Pooh and the other residents of the Hundred Acre Woods.
  2. Scuttle in The Little Mermaid, while definitely not smart like Owl, he lives above the sea and regularly watches and interacts with the humans.  Mermaid Ariel, who desperately wants to live out of the sea meets up with Scuttle, often bringing objects from the ocean floor that she has found.  She asks Scuttle as to what the objects are.  While Scuttle is usually wrong (e.g. telling Ariel that a dinner fork is a “dinglehopper” and is used to comb her hair), he is very kind and tries to keep Ariel informed about what’s going on above the sea.

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“Owl” from “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”  (1977)

SYMBOLISM

  1. In The Maltese Falcon (1941) John Huston’s directorial debut and the first film noir, stars Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade.  While investigating the murder of his partner, Miles Archer, Bogart gets involved with a cast of characters who not only have something to do with Archer’s death, but who are searching for the elusive Maltese Falcon statue.  This bejeweled statue has traveled the world and is apparently worth tens of thousands of dollars.  When the statue is finally found, it is determined to be a fake.  The criminals are angry and frustrated, but seek to continue looking for it.  While holding the fake statue, a detective asks Bogart, “Heavy? What is it?” Bogart says, “The, uh, stuff that dreams are made of.”  This faux bird represents the lack of loyalty the criminals displayed to one another during their journey.  A bird, when treated with love and kindness, can be a loyal and generous friend.  They’ll be by your side constantly and will give affection. They’ll also give you their dinner if you don’t pay attention, they want to make sure you eat.  The criminals are so shady in this film, that they don’t deserve to succeed at the end.
  2. There is much bird imagery in Psycho.  It is mostly used in the scene between Norman (Anthony Perkins) and Marion (Janet Leigh) in the motel office. The birds in these scenes foreshadow Norman’s psyche and Marion’s eventual fate. Norman has a variety of stuffed birds: everything from the predator hawk to a small songbird.  Norman mentions to Marion Crane (his eventual victim) that one of his hobbies is “stuffing things” i.e. taxidermy.  This foreshadows the fact that he’s been perhaps practicing his taxidermy skills elsewhere, like on his mother’s corpse, for example (granted she is a skeleton, but he’s been preserving her).  The birds are creepy as there are a lot of them. One could argue that the different types of birds are representative of the  characters in the film.  There is an owl and hawk, two predator birds, that are featured prominently on the wall.  Norman’s mother is a predator, her personality has completely consumed Norman’s.  There are also some small songbirds who represent Marion.  These birds would be consumed in no second flat by a predator, just like it doesn’t take long for Marion’s demise at the Bates Motel.  Birds are very fragile, just like Norman Bates’ psyche.  Women are often presented as fragile and delicate, in which a bird could represent Marion.  Norman even tells Marion that she “eats like a bird” as she picks at the bread on her sandwich.  Birds actually eat a lot, a fact which Norman even mentions to Marion.  There is so much going on in this scene that it would probably warrant its own blog entry.
  3. Birds can also represent a variety of other themes: freedom, the feeling of being trapped, evil, arrogance, and mischievousness.

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Norman Bates’ office in the Bates Motel in “Psycho” (1960)

Other favorite birds of mine:

  1. Donald Duck.  Look for him in Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land (1959).  Perhaps the only good math-related movie ever made.
  2. Daffy Duck.  His “Duck Amuck” (1953) cartoon is hilarious.
  3. Woodstock from Peanuts.  He doesn’t do much except be Snoopy’s companion, but he has his moments.
  4. Roadrunner.  He says so much by saying so little “beep beep” which roughly translates to “ha ha” when said to Wile E. Coyote after successfully evading yet another trap. Why does Wile E. Coyote want to eat him so much anyway? I doubt he’s got that much meat on him.
  5. Piper from the Pixar short.  This bird is just so cute!

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Piper from Piper (2016) Pixar’s short film. Look at his face!

This post was inspired by my bird, Buddy, a yellow-sided green cheek conure:

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Buddy the bird, enjoying some mango!