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IN SHORT: Best for kidlets.
Flubber is an updated rendition of Disney's The Absent Minded Professor, which is so old that it's in black and white.
Which is just another reason why Cranky makes no comparisons to Source Material, 'cuz he does remember watching The Absent Minded Professor (and its sequel Son of Flubber) as a kidlet and is feelin' a wee creaky in the bones.
OK, enough about me. Disney dropped the ball the last time out, aiming their remake of That Darn Cat at a teenage audience by starring Christina Ricci opposite the kitty. This time out, they've aimed lower, as in singular age digits, and have made the mix all the more acceptable to parental units by starring the infinitely talented Robin Williams as the Prof. Perhaps having the Home Alone creator John Hughes adapting the late Bill Walsh's 1961 screenplay was to bring some of that Macauley Culkin style edge to the flick. If so, it didn't work.
Flubber is cute. It doesn't mess with the original story, much. But the major change to the tale is so underdeveloped that those of us who sit hundreds of hours in the dark can only wonder "why not?" More about this in one paragraph.
All Cranky remembers of the original flick is a basketball game and a flying Model T. So, to bring you up to date: Professor Philip Brainerd of Medfield College is so absent minded that he's missed his wedding twice. He's wrapped up in his scientific wizardry that one accident and an explosion later, he's stumbled onto a new rubbery type thing that allows cars to fly and short fat kids to run and jump like Michael Jordan. He calls it Flubber. His purpose for creating the material is to come up with a new energy source to save the College from an evil man who has lent it money and is threatening to close its doors forever.
The big diff between the old flubber and the new improved flubber is this -- the new goo has personality bordering on sentience. Outside of a Busby Berkely takeoff music video stuck dead center in the reel, it's all the same as before. Small touches in the remake include replacing the Model T with a cherry '63 T-bird; upgrading Brainerd's fiancee (Marcia Gay Harden) to President of the College and remaking his secretary into a flying robot named Weebo. The latter bit is cute, as the device flashes bits of old Disney flicks on its viewscreen a la HBO's Dream On.
Robin Williams gets off only one zinger for the adults. One last modernizing touch is a dropped promo opportunity for the Mouse that doesn't miss such things. In the last third of the flick the Prof flashes his e-mail address [email@example.com] onscreen. My 5 year old nephew wanted to write. The address doesn't work.
Flubber is sweet and painless enough for grownups, but it ain't much for much beyond babysitting.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Flubber, he would have paid . . .
The flick is for kidlets, which means play after play on video. The littler the kidlet, the better.
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