These days a man staying home and taking care of the kids while Mommy works is about as odd as a cup of water, but back in the early 80s, well… it was an idea just crazy enough to serve as the plot for one of our decade’s funniest movies.
Mr. Mom starred Michael Keaton as Jack Butler, an auto worker who is suddenly laid off from his white collar job. As he starts the oh-so-fun process of looking for work, his lovely wife Caroline (Teri Garr) realizes that she should look, too, just in case. And wouldn’t you know it, her advertising background (from college) is enough to land her a cushy gig at an ad agency run by sleazy Ron Richardson (Martin Mull).
And just like that, Jack gets put on kid duty with a hefty helping of Clean the House and a side order of Take Care of All the Chores.
Not only does he have to figure out how to drop off his kids at school (yes, there IS a system), he also has to learn that it doesn’t take an entire box of detergent to wash the laundry, that you need to check to make sure maxi pads aren’t on special when you go grocery shopping (lest they call Irv for a price check), and that there are literally a dozen different kinds of ham.
And if all that weren’t enough, there was the issue of trying to wean Kenny off his Woobie. Never easy.
Written by John Hughes (yes, THAT John Hughes) Mr. Mom was an early-80s thing of beauty. The laughs came early and often, and the cast (which included Jeffrey Tambor, Edie McClurg, and Christopher Lloyd in minor roles) was on its way up. In typical Hughes fashion the ‘everything that can go wrong, will’ theme ruled the day. It’s enough to make a guy just want to get fat and sit down to a nice game of poker with the neighborhood ladies.
Mr. Mom did just fine for itself at the box office, bringing in almost $65 million and finishing its run as the #9 movie in 1983. Not to shabby, Jack.
“Your mom calls the vacuum cleaner ‘Jaws’?”
We ♥ Mr. Mom.