Saturday, March 2, 2013

Movie #176: Flubber

Flubber is a late-90s Robin Williams vehicle with too damn much CGI, starring Williams, Marcia Gay Harden, Clancy Brown, Ted Levine, Christopher McDonald and (sigh) Wil Wheaton. It's pretty terrible.

Flubber is a remake of the 1961 Disney film The Absent-Minded Professor, which was a commonly rented movie when I was a lad. That one had some charm, but this one is the 90s version.

Now, I don't know if you remember the 90s (since they were 20+ years ago; this movie came out in 1997), but that was the decade of dumbing everything down and exaggerating everything. The thinking was much like Bud Frontier from "The Tick vs. Proto-Clown" - if one is funny, then a giant one is funnier. No. Fred MacMurray's character was absent-minded, but not as monumentally clueless as Williams'. The heavies in the original were out to take flubber for their own purposes, but we didn't have a tired, over-repeated gag with two henchmen getting beaned with golf/bowling balls (OMG WHY AREN'T THEY DEAD HOW DO I PHYSICS).

Oh, and I'm pretty sure there was no flying, sentient robot that sabotaged the wedding and then had a "daughter" with Williams. WTF.

The worst decision, though, was making flubber self-aware. It's not a substance, it's a character. It laughs, it shows fear, happiness and pleasure, and Williams still has no problem crystallizing it and liquefying it and putting it on shoes and balls (huh-huh) because something something physics. Everything in this movie destroys my suspension of disbelief, not least that Williams' character invented a fucking self-aware artificial intelligence capable of love and jealousy and that hasn't, like, completely changed the world already. Blargh.

The movie is terrible, and I have to figure the pitch went something like this:

"We want to do a remake of The Absent-Minded Prof-"

"Too many words."

"How about just Flubber?"

"Perfect! Sounds like farting! Is Eddie Murphy free?"

"No, he's doing his own series of fart movies."

"How about Robin Williams? He free?"

"Depends what you mean by 'free.' Like, free of cocaine? Yes."

"Family movie, then. Got it."

"Free as in of charge? No, he's very expensive."

"...and?"

"Nothing. Free as in available? Sure, he just got finished doing a Woody Allen movie, and then some nobody named Affleck conned him into some indie flick. He'll be hurting for cash."

"Perfect." [snoooooooooort]

My Grade: D-
Rewatch value: IINSIAIFWT

Next up: Frailty