Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you have no doubt heard of the TV program Mrs. Brown’s Boys, a comedy starring Brendan O’Carroll as Agnes Brown, the Irish matriarch of her family. The show, adapted from various stage plays and radio shows written and performed by O’Carroll in the 1990s, has become a massive hit, as made evident by the upcoming film release, Mrs. Brown’s Boys: D’Movie. To celebrate the release, we’re going to take a look at the history of men dressing as women in cinema.
The idea of men dressing as women for comedic purposes is as old as the theme itself, being used as running gags in silent films and such. However, the most famous example is arguably 1982’s Tootsie, which starred Dustin Hoffman as a volatile actor who is too hard to work with, and decides to start cross dressing in order to find work. The film was a smash hit, garnering ten Oscar nominations (Winning for Best Supporting Actress) and today is recognised as one of the greatest films of the 80s. Another well loved cross dressing comedy came in 1993’s Mrs. Doubtfire, one of the best loved comedies of all time. Robin Williams plays a father who begins dressing up as his children’s nanny just so he is able to see them. It’s a sweet and hilarious film, and one of the best of William’s career.
But if we’re gonna talk about this subject, then there’s one name that just cannot be left out: Tyler Perry. Much like Brendan O’Carroll, Tyler Perry created the character of intimidating grandmother Madea in a stage play before the film Diary of a Mad Black Woman was released in 2005. The film has seen seven sequels, each more critically revered than the last. Despite the bad critical response, Perry’s comedies are largely enjoyed, and the character of Madea has become popular since the franchise started.
Cross dressing is a popular theme in cinema, no matter what its intentions. Personally, I’ve never been a fan. I find that a lot of comedies use the fact that they have a man dressed as a woman to hide the fact that the jokes aren’t any good, and people only laugh along because there is a man dressed as a woman who’s saying them. The only exception for me (I haven’t seen Tootsie) is Mrs. Doubtfire, for being genuinely funny and rather sweet as well. When it comes to comedies, I can’t stand the theme (Mrs. Brown’s Boys bugs me too), but I think it can make for amazing performances in serious films, like the previously mentioned examples.
What Do You Think?
Does cross dressing damn a movie?
Let us know in the comments!
Mrs. Brown’s Boys: D’Movie is out in cinemas today.