Tastes and times have changed drastically since 1961 when Fred
MacMurray originally introduced the super-elastic stuff called
'flubber' to film audiences in Walt Disney's "The Absent Minded
Professor." In the high-tech, 1990's Disney remake "Flubber" reinvents
itself as an animated, gooey-green, silly putty blob of flying rubber
that talks and dances. Actually, flubber resembles a combination of the
Pillsbury Doughboy crossed with the shape-shifting water creature in
James Cameron's 1989 fantasy thriller "The Abyss." Inventive,
excessive, but tolerably entertaining, director Les Mayfield's remake
of "The Absent Minded Professor" will captivate both young and
absent-minded audiences. Happily, "Flubber" succeeds as a resilient
special effects laden tour-de-farce. Sadly, the remake lacks the wit,
warmth, subtlety, and comedic irony that distinguished its black &
white predecessor. The spectacular morphing effects of George Lucas'
Industrial Light & Magic Company and the visual wizardry of Peter
Crosman, Tom Bertino, and Douglas Hans Smith cannot offset the film's
hopelessly befuddled plot.
The story by John Hughes and the late Bill Walsh follows the zany efforts of a scatterbrained university chemistry professor. Dr. Philip Brainard (Robin Williams of "Popeye") accidentally cooks up a gravity defying concoction called 'flubber.' Generating its own perpetual motion, 'flubber' has uses limited only by the imagination. Unlike the limp lump of 'flubber' in "The Absent-Minded Professor," the 'flubber' "Flubber" radiates a mischievous personality, but the filmmakers never solidify its amorphous character. Not only will Brainard 'flubber' rescue Medfield College from bankruptcy and closure, but 'flubber' will also redeem him in the eyes of the long-suffering sweetheart that he wants to wed: Medfield College President Sara Jean Reynolds (Marcia Gay Harden.) Brainard heads up Sara Jean's you-know-what list. Three times in a row he has left her stranded at the altar! If things aren't bad enough, Brainard's old academic nemesis Wilson Croft (Christopher MacDonald of "Thelma & Louise") lurks in the background. Oil and conniving, Croft plans to pilfer Brainard's fiancée as well as take credit for his 'flubber' formula and the millions of dollars that it is sure to reap. The professor's next bigger enemy is perhaps his worst: corrupt businessman Chester Hoenicker (Raymond J. Barry of "Mad City"). Hoenicker's bratty son Bennett (Will Wheaton of TV's "Star Trek: The Next Generation") flunked Brainard's class. Consequently, Bennett got suspended from the basketball team. Initially, all that Hoenicker sought was a simple change of grade so Bennett, the top hoopster on the Medfield basketball team, could resume playing. When Hoenicker senior learns more about 'flubber,' he joins forces with the equally avaricious Croft to rip-off Braniard's discovery.
Women have come a long way since the 1961 original. Disney has promoted the fiancée from being the college president's secretary to the college president! Although Sara Jean presides over Medfield, she cannot keep it out of the red without the help of a good man. "Flubber" implies that women indeed have come a long way, but not far enough to get by on their own wits. Moreover, Sara Jean's romance with Brainard appears to occupy her every waking minute instead of the financial crisis that threatens her small, private college. Her priorities appear demeaningly misplaced. WEEBO, Brainard's flying female computer, serves as a sort of bad girl here who gets her just comeuppance for tampering with Brainard's social life. At one point, WEEBO creates a cyber-Siren image for herself to detract Brainard from Sara Jean.
"Flubber" sounds like a can't-miss-hit from this description. If anything, "Flubber" proves that absent-minded audiences appreciate movies with an absence of drama. The original movie contained a richer plot with a variety of nuances that heightened its hilarity. "Flubber" smears on obvious slapstick to churn up laughs. John Hughes' script relies on his tried and true "Home Alone" routines. Hughes deserves the blame for this half-baked farce. For example, Hoenicker's henchman, Smith (Clancy Brown of "Starship Troopers") and Wesson (Ted Levine of "Silence of the Lambs") are clearly stand-ins for the Joe Pesci & Daniel Stern duo from the "Home Alone" comedies. Brainard's flubber clobbers them literally in the form of a golf ball and a bowling ball. Smith gets nailed by a non-stop golf ball, while a hard flying bowling ball wallops Wesson. When either object strikes them, these goons hit the deck like pole-axed ten pins.
Director Les Mayfield of "Encino Man" and "Miracle on 34th Street") and scenarist John Hughes cannot make up their own minds about flubber. Flubber has endless possibilities, and its embryonic personality can be playful but occasionally snappish, too. WEEBO accuses Brainard of giving flubber "too much free will." Flubber never seems to live up to its potential unless it is exploding, flying through rooms, and cronking noggins. Most of the humor comes from how flubber reacts to different situations more than how Brainard applies it. Because they never define the nature of flubber, its wide open character lacks dramatic clarity. For example, the filmmakers don't set any limits to what flubber can do. Perhaps Mayfield and company chose green as flubber's lime-green color because the special effects were so expensive.
Credit goes to director Les Mayfield for the get-up-and-goo pace of dizzy Disney film. He does a find job of seamlessly integrating the over-the-top special effects with live action, too. "Flubber" is aimless but predictable fun. The villains seem less villainous this time around, and Christopher MacDonald's bad guy appears simply to give flubber something through which to fly. The bowel humor here and there adds little to the humor and seems out of place in a juvenile movie. Parents may find themselves in a curious moral dilemma trying to explain to their kids why Brainard's cheating tactics should be condoned. He applies flubber to the basketball team's sneakers to help them beat their tall, merciless opponents on the court. Danny Elfman's lively music emphasizes the fast, bouncy pace of "Flubber" and helps the film scoot right along to its inevitable happy ending.
Action / Comedy / Family / Sci-Fi
Action / Comedy / Family / Sci-Fi
Professor Phillip Brainard, an absent-minded professor, works with his assistant Weebo, trying to create a substance that's a new source of energy and that will save Medfield College where his sweetheart Sara is the president. He has missed his wedding twice, and on the afternoon of his third wedding, Professor Brainard creates flubber, which allows objects to fly through the air. It looks like rubber, so he calls it flubber. This film is based on the 1961 Disney classic, "The Absent-Minded Professor.
Uploaded By: OTTO
Downloaded 78,280 times
October 06, 2011 at 04:42 PM