"Inventor Saves The Day"
What You Need To Know:
Children will enjoy the special effects and the mayhem that results when Flubber flies out of control, although they may get bored at the beginning of the movie which sets up the characters and lasts at least 20 minutes. Adults will like FLUBBER because it is a very safe holiday picture. Christian marriage is extolled, fornication is discouraged, and hard work is demonstrated. Objectionable material is minor including a scatological reference and action violence.
(CC, Ro, L, V, N, M) Moderate Christian, moral worldview where Christian marriage is extolled, fornication is rebuked, sacrifice & hard work are rewarded, & evil is brought to justice, with a romantic subplot; 2 uses of the word “damn”; action slapstick violence including man hit by golf ball, man hit with bowling ball, lots of Flubber flying around and breaking things, man falls out of window unharmed, woman punches man, robot hits man, man hits robot, & explosions; no sex; upper male nudity & implied nude modeling; no alcohol use; no smoking; and, some minor miscellaneous immorality including man accidentally swallowing Flubber which is excreted out comically, a dishonest practice by leading man & leading man becomes too attached to his own creations.
In 1961, Walt Disney Pictures created and released the movie THE ABSENT-MINDED PROFESSOR, starring Fred MacMurray, about the creator of FLUBBER or flying rubber. Now, completely updating the tale with marvelous special effects and high morals, Robin Williams stars as Professor Phillip Brainard, a college professor who creates an animated energy-filled compound that just may be the answer to the financial troubles of the college where he teaches. Quickly paced with lots of slapstick humor and visual gags, the movie is very acceptable for all ages, though it has a few minor flaws both morally and in its storytelling.
Professor Phillip Brainard at Medfield College is so wrapped up in his work that he has forgotten two dates to marry his sweetheart, Sara (Marcia Gay Harden), who also is the president of the financially troubled school. He walks in on an art class and starts a science lecture to students who are drawing pictures of nude models, who cover themselves at his entrance. Meanwhile, evil financier Chester Hoenicker (Raymond Barry) bankrolls Medfield College and publicly plans to pull the plug on its money.
On the day of his wedding, Phil and his flying robot assistant, WEEBO, are furiously experimenting in his basement, which is filled with beakers and test tubes. He gets a fit of inspiration and invents flubber, a green, globulous, morphable mass which can even seem alive, animated and anthropomorphic (which goes unexplained to the audience). Phil is so excited about this discovery that he spends all night testing out his new creation. He discovers that flubber is highly elastic, and when stimulated by electricity, it can even fly. When Sara realizes that Phil has stood her up for a third time at the chapel, she tells him their relationship is over and allows herself to be wooed by a slightly sinister professor, named Wilson Craft (Christopher McDonald).
Phil tries to win back Sara by showing her the flubber, but she is unimpressed. Chester Hoenicker discovers that Phil has made an important and financially promising discovery and sends some goons over to break into Phil’s home and steal the flubber. Meanwhile, Phil secretly applies flubber to the shoes of the Medfield College basketball team so that they can win the game and win the attention of potential financiers. (WEEBO questions Phil about the honesty of this practice, but Phil is not chastised or punished for his dishonesty, no matter how noble is his cause.)
Chester’s goons enter Phil’s house, get hit over the head repeatedly by flying balls, bust up WEEBO beyond repair and steal the Flubber. Phil and Sara jump into his flubber-powered flying car and drive over to Chester’s home, where they undertake a frantic flubber recovery plan. With the flubber returned to its rightful owner, Phil and Sara can now sell it to a legitimate company and restore Medfield College plus their hopes of marriage.
Children will enjoy the special effects, especially when flubber takes human form and dances around. The professor didn’t use magic to create this effect, and some adults may be a little confused as to how flubber can seem alive. Children may also delight in the chaos and mayhem that results when the flubber flies out of control. The basketball scene is particularly amusing when the players fly through the air and perform all sorts of feats to defeat their foes. Children may get bored at the beginning of the movie which sets up the characters and lasts at least 20 minutes.
Adults will like FLUBBER because it is a very safe and enjoyable holiday picture. Christian marriage is extolled when Phil and Sara want to get married in a church. Fornication is frowned on when Sara turns down an offer to go away on a premarital secret weekend with Wilson. Hard work is demonstrated when Phil stays up all night not only to win Sara over but also to save his beloved college.
Objectionable material is minor. A scatological reference occurs when Wilson excretes Flubber after he accidentally swallows it. Phil becomes strangely attached to his female robot friend. Though not sexual, it is a little disconcerting when he grieves profoundly over WEEBO’s “death.” (A case could be made that this is actually an incarnational example of the Creator grieving over the death of his creation.) Yet, at an earlier time, WEEBO tells Phil that computers can’t give love, and WEEBO even helps Sara understand how much Phil loves her. A final squabbling point may be the slapstick violence. This movie is written by John Hughes who wrote the violent holiday movie HOME ALONE. Much of the action is on that level and includes human pain inflicted on the intruding goons.
Last year, Disney scored with the remake of 101 DALMATIONS. FLUBBER seems to be a worthy successor in Disney’s Christmas family film line. If it is a success, then expect to see many more remakes of early Disney films, re-created with special effects and stars for today’s generation.
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