“How dare you?” Miranda shook with rage. “How dare you deceive me like this, and arrange for my own children to deceive me? How dare you encourage them to collude with you in lying to me and humiliating me?”
Did you know Mrs. Doubtfire is based on a book???? I certainly did not. So imagine my delight when I ran across Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine at the library book sale. At first, I thought was one of those novels based on movies. But no! Mrs. Doubtfire is based on the novel. So I had to read it.
First of all, let me just say that I love Mrs. Doubtfire. LOVE. It makes me laugh every single time I watch it. Every single time. I love the restaurant bit with the “Help is on the way!” and I love the “He’s a she-she…she’s a he-she” part. And the transformation scene and when he says that Miranda maybe has crabs. And “It was a run by fruiting“! HAHAHAHAHA. That is all from memory! So what I’m saying is that I love the movie.
The book is much more serious. The basic premise is the same. Daniel and Miranda are divorced, Daniel wants to keep the three kids after school, Miranda won’t let him, and so he becomes her housekeeper Madame Doubtfire. There are some funny bits (like Daniel’s other job being a nude model and the neighbor making fun of him), but mostly the book explores the horrors of divorce. The parents are just wretched to each other. Daniel frequently pantomimes killing the mom (IN FRONT OF THE KIDS), and Miranda calls Daniel names and talks bad about him (in front of anyone who will listen).
Basically, all of the bits with the parents being horrible to each other in the movie are lifted straight from the book. Except the book parents are worse.
What I do like about the book is that the kids recognize Daniel right away. (Of course, his disguise is less elaborate since Frank and Jack don’t exist in the book.) I also like that the book is ultimately about the kids and, in the end, they drive the action. So the book kids are better than the movie kids.
In conclusion: Movie parents are better, book kids are better, and overall I prefer the movie’s light-hearted look at divorce (though it is sad!) over the book’s dark tone, though I do appreciate the book’s realism. So American I am with my choice of narrative!
YA of the ’80s and ’90s: 6; YA Reading Challenge: 33; Page to Screen: 4/5