By Todd McFliker
Marie Claire’s editor-in-chief Joanna Coles suggests that today’s women are winning by relying on their stay-at-home husbands, as they are no longer “trophy wives.” Esquire Magazine’s 2010 Survey of American Men found just 27 percent of 20-year-olds and 14 percent of 50-year-olds would feel uncomfortable earning less money than their wives or girlfriends. Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that in many major American cities, women are increasingly earning more than men. Nearly 30 years ago, John Hughes explored what was then a relatively new phenomena in a feature starring Michael Keaton, “Mr. Mom.”
Mr. Mom is a heartwarming flick that’ll have you smiling from start to finish. It is one of John Hughes’ enduring PG films. Twenty years before Daddy Day Care, Michael Keaton was Jack Butler, the man around the house caring for three adorable children. When he gets laid off as a car engineer in Motown during the Early Eighties recession, he bets his wife Caroline, Teri Garr, that he can land a job before her. The man loses.
The adventures begin with dropping off the kids at school, trekking through a grocery store, giving baths and drying the baby’s bum in a public restroom. With the Mrs. at work for a giant tuna manufacturer, Jack discovers he is clueless when it comes to taking care of the children and the house chores. How does he know what kind of ham, cheese or feminine napkins to buy? At one point, housework turns into mayhem when three different technicians show up, including an arachnophobic exterminator. Then the washing machine explodes after Jack creates his own ingredients of soap, the evil vacuum named “Jaws” takes off, the kids set off the smoke alarm by making lunch, and the baby eats the kids’ concoction of gaseous chili. Filling a mother’s shoes can be quite tricky.
Topped with fantastic one-liners, Keaton begins watching soap operas, playing poker for coupons with the ladies and even grows a scruffy beard. Eventually, the stay-at-home pop works his way into Super Dad. He is part of a happy family. When you’re down, you’re not necessarily out. You just gotta roll with the punches. Jack explains to his spouse, “It’s real easy to forget what’s important, so don’t.”
Before long, a friend of Jack’s wife tries unsuccessfully to seduce him. At the same time, Caroline has to fend off sexual advances from her boss, Martin Mull. She ends up decking him in the face and quitting her job. Jack eventually gets his old position back, and he now understands many more of his wife’s headaches. This knowledge leads to a more successful marriage.
Keaton, the youngest of seven children, is from Robinson Township, Pennsylvania. From 1982 until 1990, he was married to actress Caroline McWilliams. The pair has one 27-year-old son, Sean Maxwell. The former Bruce Wayne also had a serious relationship with Courteney Cox in the early Nineties.
Garr, the mother of an adopted daughter, has spent years battling multiple scleroses. She has since become a leading advocate in raising awareness for the condition and the latest treatments for the illness. Garr works as a National Ambassador for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and National Chair for the Society’s Women Against MS program (WAMS).
Don’t forget to check back next week for FatherhoodChannel’s Parenthood DVD, Irreconcilable Differences. Spectators laugh and cry when a young Drew Barrymore takes her folks to court in an attempt to divorce her self-absorbed Mother and Father.
A newlywed, Todd McFliker is an award-winning reporter, photographer, and the author of All You Need is Love to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. He earned his Masters in Communication from Lynn University.