Flubber Parent Guide
Parent Movie Review
One name should warn you that this remake of the venerable Absent Minded Professor has undergone major changes: John Hughes. The creator of the Home Alone series (and other infamous punch fests), Hughes has co-written this attempt to bring Robin Williams into the role of Professor Brainard—a man who saves his job, marriage, and career with a substance he calls flubber. Flubber is better than ever thanks to 1990’s movie making technology. Not only does it bounce and multiply energy, it’s also capable of breaking into a full blown dance production number.
In a home that looks like a garage sale gone bad, Brainard’s simple existence is shared with two robots. One cleans dutifully while the other, called Weebo, floats in the air and with a soft female voice offers Brainard advice with his schedule, experiments, and love life. Amazingly, Brainard does have a real girlfriend, Sara Jean (Marcia Gay Harden), who is the dean of the college where he works. Even more amazing is that Sara still loves Brainard even though he has forgotten their wedding date on two previous attempts. Now he is about to miss the third.
If you are asking yourself how someone smart enough to invent a substance that can multiply energy can’t remember his own wedding day, then this movie isn’t your genre. Flubber is squarely aimed at the under-13 crowd, with lots of silly animated sequences to fill the time. Hughes gets his trademark pair of idiot crooks into the script, who are stupid enough to get hit in the head with a bowling ball…repeatedly. As I say with every Hughes movie, cartoon violence translated to real life becomes a serious problem, leaving too many children with the impression that knocking someone on the head only leaves a lump and a headache.
The comic violence is a little over-the-top, but the movie does have some positive lessons for kids. Brainard, despite his shortcomings, tries his hardest to make his ideas work. However, by the end of the film, he realizes that, if he wants to make the people around him happy, he has to devote just as much attention to them as he does to his inventions. Sara Jean, meanwhile, realizes that if she wants Brainard to be a part of her life, she will have to accept some of his oddities and work around them. These characters are excellent examples of how people adapt to be better friends and better people, and it’s a good idea to help children understand that being a friend can take hard work.
However, no amount of goofy slapstick can take away the real joy of this film, which is in Robin Williams’ brilliant performance. Bringing his characteristic chaotic insanity to the unfortunate Dr. Brainard, Williams injects a lot of heart into what would otherwise be a fairly standard kids comedy. While I can’t see this being a great movie for adults, kids will have a ton of fun with the zany antics of Brainard and the energetic ball of green goo known as Flubber.Starring Robin WIlliams, Marcia Gay Harden. Running time: 93 minutes. Theatrical release November 26, 1997. Updated March 23, 2020
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Flubber typifies the entertainment available for young children today where imaginative writing has been replaced with technology and slapstick violence. For me, the original Absent Minded Professor offers far more bounce for my rental dollar.