In 1992, Robin Williams seemed to be an unstoppable force of box-office gold. A look at the previous five years now feels like a high-water mark for his career, with the release of Good Morning Vietnam, Awakenings, Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, and Aladdin. Even cult favorites, like Shakes The Clown, and weird misfires like Toys, made use of Williams’ skills. But Chris Columbus’ 1993 divorce-comedy Mrs. Doubtfire felt like it might signal the domestication of Robin Williams, and that wasn’t the only potential crime associated with the movie. Supercompressor brought in a crack legal team (actually just a single lawyer) to take a closer look at Mrs. Doubtfire’s shenanigans, as well as the legal circumstances surrounding alter-ego Daniel Hillard’s custody arrangements that gave birth to the rubber-faced nanny.
From the start, there’s some doubt thrown on the idea that a divorce would automatically result in Williams’ character being immediately cast out into a hovel. It’s possible, but not likely. The custody arrangements also seem a little shaky, almost as if the legal system was manipulated in service of a movie plot.
But the real legal trouble starts once Hillard adopts the guise of Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire. It turns out that the impersonation to gain access to his children could constitute fraud. And by the time Mrs. Doubtfire is done trying to chase away Pierce Bronsan’s lothario Stu, Hillard could have been looking at criminal charges that include malicious destruction, assault and battery, and even attempted murder. So basically, Mrs. Doubtfire takes the premise of Tootsie, but then imagines what happens if the struggling actor decides to break bad.