Modern Family: ‘Mr. Mom’ & Fatherhood in the 21st Century

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“My brain is like oatmeal,” jobless auto worker Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) tells his newly employed wife Caroline (Teri Garr) in 1983’s Mr. Mom.  “I yelled at Kenny today for coloring outside the lines!”  Having lost his management position at a local Detroit auto manufacturer, Butler found himself adrift, watching over his two boys and infant daughter Megan while Caroline climbed the advertising industry ladder rising to executive as sort of comedic proto-Don Draper.  With a faux Grizzly Adams look replete with faded flannel shirt, scruffy beard, and an expanding waistline, Butler admits that his time as a stay at home dad had not gone smoothly. “Megan and I are starting to watch the same TV shows, and I’m liking them! I’m losing it.”

While hardly Oscar material – Roger Ebert called the movie a “great idea” that didn’t follow through and other critics described it as “sitcom-like”– Mr…

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