Release Date(s)1983 (September 5, 2017)
Studio(s)Orion Pictures/MGM/20th Century Fox (Shout! Factory/Shout Select)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C
While Mr. Mom certainly didn’t kick any doors open in the 1980s, it was a continual point of reference thereafter when it came to the casting of Michael Keaton in 1989’s Batman. If you were alive during this era, there was a string of comedies starring Keaton that many pointed to as the reason why he was all wrong for Bruce Wayne/Batman (despite his appearance in the dramatic film Clean and Sober). Thankfully, the role only further proved his versatility as an actor. And while Mr. Mom is certainly an outdated film when compared to modern day, politically correct, left-leaning views about the roles of men and women in society, it’s still a charming comedy film, mainly due to its star.
In complete honesty, Mr. Mom only survives today as a nostalgic piece: a look at the world through a different prism in cultural history. Those of us who grew up watching similar films or TV shows are most likely to have a fondness for it more so than contemporary viewers. Moments such as having to embarrassingly pick out a box of Kotex pads, keeping an angry mob of women at bay while dealing with a deli worker, or being ignorant of how to drop off your child at school are certainly not uncommon nowadays; but for movies, these everyday occurrences wind up as passé or clichéd in nature. In other words, a straightforward premise about a breadwinning father who suddenly loses his job and is forced to stay home and learn to take care of the children and do housework while his wife ascends in the business world isn’t quite as routine or acceptable as it once was.
Some of the more interesting bits outside of Keaton’s home-bound antics involve his wife (Teri Garr). Watching her try and make it in an increasingly unwelcome and sexist workplace is far more interesting and, sadly, just as frequent an experience today as it was then. It’s actually what gives the film slightly more teeth, more so than its namesake. Instead of being a one-dimensional farce about a deadbeat father rising to the occasion, we also get glimpses of what the woman in this relationship has to go through as well. However, all of this is in service of a simple comedy premise and analyzing it is perhaps not that necessary. Even so, Mr. Mom, as lighthearted and enjoyable as it is, is never going to pass under heavy scrutiny, even with John Hughes name attached to it.
Shout Select’s Blu-ray release of the film features a transfer that’s obviously a previous HD master, but holds up well regardless. Observably softer and less-detail oriented than any recent scan, it’s still a filmic presentation with a decent color palette and mostly natural-looking skin tones. Black levels are ok for the most part with good shadow detailing, but contrast levels could have used slight tweaking to make things a bit brighter. Very little film damage is leftover and there are no major noise-related issues worth complaining about either. For the film’s audio, two tracks are present: English 2.0 mono and English 5.1, both DTS-HD tracks. The mono is really the only track you’ll need as it’s well-balanced with good dialogue reproduction and decent heft for sound effects and score. On the other hand, the 5.1 soundtrack delivers the same soundtrack, but in a slightly wider landscape (not that the film was ever in need of a larger sound field). Dialogue is centered while the rear speakers take care of the rest, but with no real sense of design behind it. Regardless, it’s nice to have options, and overall, it’s a pretty good transfer. There are also subtitles available for it in English, as well as a couple of extras, including the What it Takes: Looking Back at Mr. Mom retrospective documentary and the original theatrical trailer.
Shout Select’s Collector’s Edition Blu-ray presentation of Mr. Mom is definitely a nice upgrade from its SD counterpart. While it would have been a treat to have had some participation from more of the main cast and crew members involved with the film in the documentary, chiefly Keaton himself, the overall package is still a nice improvement of an old favorite.
- Tim Salmons