Return to the ’80s Movies: Mr. Mom

Michael Keaton
Teri Garr
Martin Mull
Ann Jillian

Rated PG

Runtime 91 minutes

Released August 19, 1983

Synopsis: After he’s laid off, a husband switches roles with his wife. She returns to the workforce and he becomes a stay-at-home dad – a job he has no clue how to

Last time I had seen this? Probably not since the mid-80s. I remember our family renting it. And I feel like I’ve seen it a few times on cable.

What I knew about this movie before watching it I definitely remember the premise, and some of the sight gags, such as Michael Keaton fighting with the vacuum cleaner, and him holding the baby over the hand dryer.

Review/Summary: Mr. Mom takes place in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Michael Keaton plays Jack Butler, an engineer at the Ford Motor Company. At the beginning of the film, Jack and his two friends, Larry and Stan, lose their jobs. Jack’s wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), lands a job at an ad agency. This leaves Jack at home to take care of their three kids. Hilarity ensues.  The first day, Jack has to go…food shopping!!! Everybody knows that men don’t know their way around supermarkets. Despite my sarcasm, the slapstick humor wasn’t too bad. The next day, craziness ensued around the house. Between a TV repairlady showing up, as well as an exterminator and a water heater repairman showing up around the same time, Jack struggles with an out of control washer machine, a kitchen emergency, and doing battle with a crazy, out of control vacuum cleaner named Jaws, there was total chaos.

In the meantime, Caroline is getting adjusted to life in the workforce. It’s not easy for her, as she has a sleazy boss, Ron (Martin Mull) that has the hots for her. Martin Mull gave a great Dabney Colemanesque performance.

Jack falls into a rut, dresses more and more sloppily, and starts socializing with the housewives in his neighborhood – including Ann Jillian’s Joan, who has the hots for Jack, and is constantly trying to seduce him.

One day, after Caroline comes home from work to find Jack and the neighborhood wives having a poker night, they had a fight. This part is a precursor to Beetlejuice. Specifically, where Jack says, “My brain is like oatmeal. I yelled at Kenny today for coloring outside the lines! Megan and I are starting to watch the same TV shows, and I’m liking them! I’m losing it.”

And here is the scene I am thinking of in Beetlejuice:

Then Jack finally gets his shit together during…what awesome ’80s montage!!! This one is to the Rocky theme. The end of the montage is one of my favorite parts of the movie. I totally got fooled, and laughed out loud. You’ll have to watch the movie to see what I’m talking about.

At work, Caroline successfully pitched and advertising campaign to a hard-to-please client. The president of that company then wants her to fly to Los Angeles to help shoot a commercial. That does not go over too well with Jack.

Meanwhile, the car company that fired Jack is struggling. So they try to lure Jack back. But, he calls his old boss out on their dirty practices, and storms out.

The climax of the film comes when Ron tries to seduce Caroline in her hotel room, then Joan tries to seduce Jack at his house. Without getting into details, since this is an ’80s comedy movie, I don’t think it would be too spoilery to say that the movie has a good ending.

Does the movie stand the test of time? It does if you think the woman’s place belongs in the kitchen, and the man should be the sole breadwinner. Then this craziness would make sense. Otherwise, the theme is outdated to say the least. At least we can be confident that Hollywood would not try to remake this film. On the other hand, the humor is very good, and the cast is outstanding – especially Michael Keaton. If there’s anything timeless about this movie – it’s him.

Worth the Return? Yes!!! Even though it’s a little outdated, this was a very fun movie, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I have already watched this a few times since I started this article, and am watching it right now as I write this.

Rating 3 Jaws and a Woobie (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

mr_mom_02 mr_mom_02 mr_mom_02

2 thoughts on “Return to the ’80s Movies: Mr. Mom”

  1. I always loved this film. Saw it for the first time as a wee lad. But it wasn’t until I was in my late teens and started watching The Young & The Restless that I “got” that whole sequence where Jack is talking about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that part of the movie! All the Young & The Restless references were awesome. When Ann Jillian showed up, I probably thought that was really happening when I was young and first saw it. But I knew what was happening this time. I never saw that soap opera in my life, but I know the theme song, and I think it’s my favorite as far as soaps go.


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