It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
People have been living through the basic idea for "Mr. Mom" for years. It's too bad this movie doesn't feel more like their lives and less like the pilot for a TV sitcom. The movie's about a well-paid Ford executive who gets laid off and can't find work. Then his wife finds a job at an advertising agency, and her years of experience in "the front lines of consumerism" make her a big hit with the clients.
Meanwhile, her husband stays home to keep house and raise the children. There are so many genuine comedy ideas (and not a few provocative ones) rising out of this situation that it's hard to see how the filmmakers could go wrong. But go wrong they do, with gimmicky sight gags and awkward fantasy sequences, stock characters and unbelievable situations. What a lost opportunity.
That's especially true because the cast is so promising. Michael Keaton, a kinetic young actor who gives the uncanny impression of being able to think faster than he can talk, plays the husband. Teri Garr, Dustin Hoffman's other girlfriend in "Tootsie," is the wife. And Martin Mull is the snaky president of the advertising agency, with plans for promoting Garr into his own life.
Now if they'd taken these characters and their situation and followed through on the implications, on a believable level, they might have come up with a true human comedy. Instead, everything is pushed too far, situations are overwritten and over-directed, and the movie is desperate enough to throw in vacuum cleaners with minds of their own, seductive next-door neighbors, and a team of local repairmen who show up an cue and look straight out of TV commercials.