mr mom reboot

In What World Is Mr. Mom a Movie That Needs to Be Remade in 2018?

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If you thought Hollywood had already scraped the bottom of the barrel in terms of movie remakes and reboots, nope! It turns out, there were still further depths to reach. Because until now, no one had thought it might be a worthwhile endeavor to remake 1983’s Mr. Mom.

If you’ve forgotten, or you never knew in the first place (jealous), Mr. Mom was a movie written by a pre-Brat Pack John Hughes, starring Michael Keaton as man who–get this!–is a stay-at-home parent. After he’s let go from his job, his wife goes back to work and he stays at home with the kids. That’s it. That’s the entire premise. It’s one of those movies that really doesn’t hold up on rewatch because it’s 1983-ness is overpowering. That was an era where a scene of a man vacuuming was a solid joke that translated clearly as a humorous reversal of our general shared social norms. In 2018, does that joke still work? Sure it would for some demographics, but on a large enough scale to be the premise of not just a movie, but a weekly television series, as this reboot plans to be? I have to believe not. The alternative is too depressing.

The show will be a digital series from the Walmart-owned streaming series Vudu, and the site’s senior director Julian Franco admits it’s a pure nostalgia grab. “As parents, we want to share with kids the TV shows and movies that we grew up with,” he told Variety. “They made us feel something. The Reality [sic] is we want our kids to feel the same thing too.”

That’s all well and good, but what makes them think kids want to feel those specific things? Those people who grew up on movies like Mr. Mom had different interests and sensibilities than their parents, just as young people today have different tastes than their parents. It’s natural for parents to not understand the tastes of their children’s generations and to wish their offspring would appreciate everything they loved in their youth. But for a network to pour money into forcing that desire into reality seems strange.

On top of asking whether the show can connect to audiences, we have to ask whether it should. Do we want to reinvest in pushing the idea that a man doing housework or raising his children is so abnormal as to be grounds for an entire comedy series?

Franco calls the movie an “American classic,” but even if you agree with that, it’s “classic” for a reason. From his statements, it doesn’t sound like there’s any intention to update the premise for a modern audience–an audience which includes an estimated 1.4 million stay-at-home dads, more than double the number from 10 years ago and far more than we had in 1983. Now, by the end of the original movie, the couple has talked through their issues with the work/family binary and come out stronger and more balanced. But in a series, is there any way to remake this premise in a way that doesn’t make a weekly joke out of men caring for their children?

(via Variety, image: Orion Pictures)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.