Books and Movies Reviews

Personality Analysis of the film Mr. Mom

The comedy film Mr. Mom stars Michael Keaton who plays Jack Butler, a recently laid-off Dad who must stay at home with his kids while his wife begins a new job. Jack must learn to deal with his new role as a "household husband", accept his wife's new role as the "breadwinner", and balance the identity transformations that come along with a life change. The film's introduction reads:
Jack and Caroline Butler are perfectly happy with their roles in life…until a layoff
makes him a househusband and her a working wife! And while she wrangles with
charts, graphs, and an all-to-eager-to-be wrangled boss, he has to contend with
their hyper kids, a ravenous vacuum cleaner, an angry washing machine, and an
oversexed neighbor! From late nights in the boardroom to lonely nights in the
bedroom, the biggest challenge for both Jack and Caroline is learning to trust
one another with their reversed roles…(MGM, 1983)
Jack is a typical forty-something male struggling to maintain his identity, and to do so, he uses a variety of defense mechanisms to relieve his internal anxiety. Jack has many concrete beliefs on gender roles, and it is difficult for him to "overstep" his masculine boundaries. The theories of Freud and Erikson can be applied to Jack's situation and actions throughout the film.
In the text, Personality Theories, the author identifies the defense mechanism theory by Freud as "procedures that ward off anxiety and prevent our conscious perception of it" (Engler, 1999, p.50). There are nine dominant defense mechanisms, and Jack Butler uses many of them during the course of the film. He had just learned of his job loss when hefirst uses a mechanism. Jack began rationalizing with his co-workers to help himself and the others "feel better". He said to his co-workers, "when your down, your not necessarily out", and "keep that sense of …


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