Flubber fails in attempt to remake Disney hit

Flubber (Buena Vista) pitifully tries to recreate the 1961 Walt Disney Classic, The Absent Minded Professor. The film lacks a few elements which made its predecessor a success – plot, humor and a supporting cast, to name a few.

A brilliant, but absent-minded scientist, Professor Phillip Brainard (Robin Williams, Jack) is trying to concoct a new energy source that will transform modern technology. With his new invention, Brainard will be able to save the indebted college where he and his fianc?, Sara (Marcia Gay Harden, First Wives’ Club) work.

Sara is anxiously anticipating her third scheduled marriage attempt, hoping Brainard finally will remember after forgetting their first two wedding days.

But Brainard makes a breakthrough in his creation and once again leaves Sara waiting at the alter. Now Brainard must use his invention to save the college and rekindle his relationship with Sara.

A few sorrowful attempts to create subplots pop up, but none matures enough to prove interesting or entertaining. Instead, they exist merely to bolster the argument that Flubber has a storyline: If there are subplots, there has to be a main plot, right?

Flubber fails everywhere the 1961 classic succeeded. Fred McMurry as the absent-minded professor portrayed a comical and warm-hearted professor who loved science and his big, white dog. The film had a main plot, subplots and many moments of light-hearted humor.

On the other hand, Flubber tries to replace the cute dog with a robot, WEEBO. For Brainard, WEEBO has been a long-time companion. The attempt to create a technologically advanced remake fails. While an audience easily can understand the relationship between a man and his dog, the partnership of a man and his robot is foreign to audiences. The distance this creates between the audience and film creates an insurmountable rift which cannot be narrowed with any other element of the film.

The greatest disappointment in Flubber is clearly Williams. The audience anticipates the typical antics and humor from Williams, but he never reveals any of the talent which made his other mundane films small successes.

No member of the supporting cast helps the film. Rather than fervently portraying their characters, they look to the script and to Williams to carry the film. In turn, no chemistry among the actors develops.

The one small highlight of the film is the visual effects. In an entertaining scene, the flubber divides into many pieces to perform a dance number. The green goo assumes various shapes to perform a tango, complete with back-up dancers and bongo drum players. The success of the scene must be accredited to the visual effects.

Flubber’s creators move too far from the elements that made the original a success. The lack of a plot and humor plagues the film from the start. Flubber degenerates as it tries to modernize a film destined to remain in black and white.

Flubber is now playing.

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