PopWatch intern Kate Sullivan calls Susman to the carpet over his shocking exclusion of Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom from his list of funniest movie dads:
KS: So, Gary, we got a passionate letter from an outraged reader demanding to know why you slighted Mr. Mom in your roundup of funny dads… and, I have to say, I think the man has a point. I’m not saying every movie with a parental title in the title should make it – I’m not asking you to tack on Ghost Dad – but Big Daddy makes it and Mr. Mom doesn’t? Meet the Fockers is funnier than Mr. Mom?
Susman: Well, let’s see, I laughed several times during both of those movies (and hated myself for it), but not once during Mr. Mom. And I love Michael Keaton, but this movie domesticated (in the most pejorative and literal sense of the word) all the funny out of him.
KS: What?! Keaton has a heartwarming dad-itude in Mr. Mom.
Susman: Heartwarming, yes. Funny, no. My real objection to Mr. Mom is its blind swallowing of countless Reagan-era cliches about gender relations and workplace roles, without really challenging any of them. Accepting the status quo (or reaffirming it at the end of the movie, which amounts to the same thing) isn’t all that funny. Instead, it just made the world safer for other guys-who-are-inept-at-changing-diapers movies, like the Three Men and a Baby films.
KS: I think Keaton worked with what he had and he came off okay – and his work is definitely funnier than some of the dads’ we’re given today – in Cheaper by the Dozen, for example.
Susman: I’ll grant you that the dads in movies like Cheaper by the Dozen are even less funny. I’m not saying every Keaton performance has to be as manic or brilliiant as Night Shift or Beetlejuice, but I’m sorry he got turned into a Cheaper by the Dozen dad so early in his career.
KS: Is it fair to blame Mr. Mom for Herbie: Fully Loaded?
Susman: No, but it would be a lot harder to accept him in that role (or in First Daughter) if he hadn’t already made Mr. Mom.
KS: I just don’t put Mr. Mom on the same level as Jack Frost or First Daughter. I think it’s a lot funnier than those. Don’t attach the sins of the father in First Daughter to the father in Mr. Mom because I can assure he is not the same man.