Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Mr. Mom

“Rough Night” and “Megan Leavey” are also new to Blu-Ray this week.

“Mr. Mom” will always have a special place in my heart for one scene that has two very funny, quotable bits of dialogue about half a minute apart. This happens when laid off auto industry engineer Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) first meets his wife Caroline’s (Teri Garr) new boss Ron (Martin Mull), who is picking Caroline up in the morning:

Jack: Want a beer?
Ron: It's 7 o'clock in the morning.
Jack: Scotch? 

A few moments later, Jack takes Ron to another room where he says he is doing some re-modeling and re-wiring. Jack proves that while he may be a great auto engineer, he’s no electrician:

Jack: Gonna rip these walls out and, uh, of course re-wire it.
Ron: Yeah? You gonna make it all 220?
Jack: Yeah, 220, 221--whatever it takes.

Like a good number of quintessential ‘80s comedies, “Mr. Mom” is fortunate enough to be written by John Hughes, here proving that he has an understanding of the human experience beyond the teen years. After Jack is laid off by his shady manager/car pool buddy Jinx (Jeffrey Tambor), the roles are reversed in Jack’s house. His wife Caroline goes to work for a ruthless advertising agency, and Jack stays at home, in charge of the house and kids.

It’s a classic fish out of water story, as Jack is thrust into a world of lunches, naps, diaper changes, school drop-offs, shopping lists, repairman appointments, and battles with household appliances. Similar to his wife at the ad agency, Jack enters into a callous, cut throat world of his own. The other moms at the school drop off, and at the deli counter at the supermarket are merciless and give no quarter. Go against the flow of traffic while dropping off the kids, or not know which type of ham, salami, or cheese you want at the deli, and there’s hell to pay with these other moms. They are nothing short of vicious.

Not that they’re all bad. One particular other woman named Joan (Ann Jillian) is friendly to Jack—but a little too friendly. Still, Jack does gather together a circle of friends amongst the moms, and Poker night with coupons is a pretty inspired idea.

What makes “Mr. Mom” work so well, aside from the brilliant and funny script form John Hughes, is Michael Keaton. Folks who only know Keaton from his more recent dramatic work may not even know that he began his career in comedies. His gift is that he can do both verbal and physical comedy very well, which is a requirement for this role and Keaton is perfectly cast. Not only are his line deliveries expertly timed and toned, but his body movements while wrestling with the washing machine, and especially, with the vacuum cleaner (one the family calls “Jaws” for a reason), lend themselves to laughter. Part of Jack’s journey in “Mr. Mom” is a low point in which he gets addicted to a daytime soap opera. This leads to a ridiculous and funny fantasy sequence that is very well played.

Most of all, I like the love and respect that “Mr. Mom” has for its main character. Jack is never made to look stupid or imbecilic, but rather as a regular man who is simply in over his head and who needs to adjust to his new role. The highs and lows that Jack experiences are very real, so the movie has heart, yet it never forgets that it is a comedy. Nothing in the movie is mean-spirited, and it’s all in good fun. Plus Jack’s method for warming up a grilled cheese sandwich is a burst of brilliance and certainly gets the job done. Whether or not it should be eaten is another question. Buy it on Amazon: Mr. Mom [Collector's Edition] [Blu-ray].

More New Releases: “Rough Night,” a bachelorette party finds itself in hot water after the male stripper they hired ends up dead, starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Zoë Kravitz, and Jillian Bell; “Megan Leavey,” based on the true story of a Marine Corporal (Kate Mara) and her dog who saved many lives in Iraq; and “All Eyez on Me,” biopic about the life of rapper Tupac Shakur (Demetrius Shipp Jr.).

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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