Just last month the vault praised Michael Keaton for his turn as the caped crusader in Batman. Keaton could throw down with the Joker and still make it home in time to snuggle up to Vicki Vale. However, is Batman up to the challenge of being a stay-at-home dad?
After engineer Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) is “furloughed” by his boss Jinx (Jeffrey Tambor), Caroline (Teri Garr), Jack’s wife and stay-at-home mom to their three kids Alex (Frederick Koehler), Kenny (Taliesin Jaffe) and Megan (Courtney White, Brittany White), makes a few inquires about finding her own employment. A confident Jack gives her one-hundred-to-one odds that he’ll find work before her. In the blink of an eye, Jack’s cinching up the apron strings and handing over a crisp hundred while Caroline is making quite an impression in the advertising world and on her boss, Ron Richardson (Martin Mull).
Mr. Mom has the distinction of landing on Kai’s Top 5 Movies: Michael Keaton. To him, Mr. Mom is just a cute, sweet, funny film and I wholeheartedly agree. The second feature film written by John Hughes, it is directed by Stan Dragoti of Necessary Roughness fame, but it owes that acclaim and lovableness to Mr. Mom himself, Michael Keaton.
As Jack, Keaton has an answer for everything, but he doesn’t have a clue about anything. He’s a complete goofball right out the starting gate. He’s a fun-loving dad, always quick with a joke or a comeback, but audiences can also sympathize with the roller coaster of emotions he experiences throughout his tribulations. See Jack lose his job. See Jack be emasculated by grocery shopping and “Jaws” the vacuum cleaner. See Jack devolve into a bushy-bearded, pot-bellied, Young & the Restless-addicted shell of a man. It’s one debacle after another, which strains his otherwise happy marriage to Caroline. It isn’t until he experiences an absurd nightmare that Jack pulls it together, gets back to his fighting weight and shows his new responsibilities who’s boss… and it’s Keaton’s effortless delivery that has us rooting for him every step of the way.
Mr. Mom also makes me miss 80s movies starring Teri Garr. Though Caroline’s rise to fame is merely a subplot to Jack’s silly string of mishaps, Garr’s a treat as his loving, and spirited wife. Keaton also gets to share the affection of 80s sex symbol, Ann Jillian, who has lots of fun as his lustful neighbor Joan. As Caroline’s boss, Martin Mull reliably delivers his pompous douchebag routine. Jack and Caroline’s two boys also provide a couple of those all-too-familiar moments of precociousness that Hughes’ scripts are famous for.
Keaton and Hughes have made the idea of being a stay-at-home dad appear both terrifying and wonderful at the same time. While it’d never be so outlandish in reality, at nearly thirty years old, Mr. Mom‘s marriage and parenting sentiments are universal truths we can still learn from today.