1993 was a mediocre year for comedies and musicals until Mrs. Doubtfire came to the rescue. Robin Williams’s biggest blockbuster sprang unsuspectingly on the critics, who didn’t cotton to its lowbrow humor, but in subsequent years the film has grown in stature and was recently voted one of the funniest movies of all time.
The Hollywood Foreign Press had no such problems. They loved the movie and so did the public. It ended up the second biggest box office hit behind Jurassic Park, earning close to half a billion dollars worldwide. Numerous attempts have been made to do a sequel, but no one could agree on a script, least of all Robin. Williams, of course, was a comedy genius: He had just come off a cycle of playing serious parts in Awakenings, The Fisher King, and Dead Poets Society, and turning to his true forte, physical comedy, he was richly rewarded. He not only optioned the book but with his then-wife they produced the film, hiring Chris Columbus to direct. No slouch, Columbus’s previous hits were Home Alone and Home Alone 2.
In the film, Williams played an undervalued divorced man. Eager to bond with his kids, he assumes the identity of a British nanny. Sally Field played his judgmental ex-wife.
Surprisingly, the film had censorship problems in the U.K., where it was given a no children under the age of 12 rating because of 13 seconds of “sexual innuendos.” The decision was later appealed and it was re-released five months later in an uncut version. Needless to say, the film was a huge hit there. Robin Williams, of course, won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical. His competition was Johnny Depp in Benny & Joon, Tom Hanks in Sleepless in Seattle, Kevin Kline in Dave, and Colm Meaney in The Snapper.
Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy Golden Globe went to Angela Bassett for playing Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It. Her competition: Stockard Channing in Six Degrees of Separation, Anjelica Huston in Adams Family Values, Diane Keaton in Manhattan Murder Mystery and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle. Mrs. Doubtfire’s competition for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy were Dave, Much Ado About Nothing, Sleepless in Seattle and Strictly Ballroom.
There were no Supporting Actor or Actress nominees from the Comedy or Musical category, a rare occurrence. Over the course of his career, Williams earned five Best Actor Golden Globes and the Cecil B. deMille Award for lifetime achievement – a true one of a kind.