The scientist father of a teenage girl and boy accidentally shrinks his and two other neighborhood teens to the size of insects. Now the teens must fight diminutive dangers as the father searches for them.
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.Written by
When your most interesting character is a computer, you've got problems.
"Flubber" is based upon that old comedy cliché, the absent-minded scientific genius. The central character, Professor Philip Brainard, is a brilliant inventor who has not only invented a robot that will do the housework for him but has also cracked the artificial intelligence problem by producing Weebo, a computer with its own personality that can not only talk to him but also fly. At present he is working on "flubber", a rubbery substance that will allow cars and other objects to fly through the air. For all his intellectual brilliance, however, his private life is so disorganised that he has forgotten to turn up to his own wedding to his attractive sweetheart Sara, not once but three times.
The plot turns upon Brainard's attempts to produce his flubber, which he sees as a solution to the financial problems confronting the college at which he teaches and of which Sara is the principal. (Like another reviewer, I found myself wondering why he didn't just try marketing his domestic robot or his talking computer, inventions which I thought would have had just as much commercial potential). Along the way, he has to fight off Wilson, the handsome but too smooth principal of another college who is his rival for Sara's affections, and a corrupt businessman who wants to use the flubber for his own selfish ends.
The film was clearly designed as a comedy for children, and works quite well as such, aided by a good deal of slapstick humour, mostly involving Robin Williams as Brainard. Unlike some children's films, however, such as the "Harry Potter" series, this one does not have much in it to keep adults entertained. Williams is clearly a talented comedian, but strangely enough, with a few exceptions such as "Mrs Doubtfire", he has been most successful in films with a serious purpose like "Dead Poets Society" or "Good Morning Vietnam", although even in these he often manages to find a use for his comic talents. In many of his comedies his talents just seem wasted. "Club Paradise" is an example, and "Flubber" is another. All the other characters, with one exception, just seem like stock figures with little individuality about them.
The one exception is Weebo the computer. The British computer pioneer Alan Turing devised what has since become known as the "Turing Test" for deciding whether a machine can be said to be intelligent. A human judge engages in a conversation with two other parties, one a human and the other a machine; if the judge cannot tell which is which, the machine is said to pass the test. Unfortunately, if the human involved were one of those in this film, Weebo would fail the test. She (Weebo has a female voice and personality) is smart, funny, sensitive and lovable, much more so than anyone else in the film, so it would be easy to tell them apart. And when your most interesting character is an electronic rather than a flesh-and-blood one, your film has got problems. 5/10
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