A forgetful scientist invents a super-bouncy substance called
flubber, which he uses to save his college and his relationship.
Directed by Les Mayfield
Written by John Hughes and Bill Walsh
Starring Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden,
Christopher McDonald, Raymond J. Barry, Ted Levine,
Clancy Brown, Jodi Benson, Wil Wheaton
Remake of 1961's The Absent-Minded Professor
Based on the short story A Situation of Gravity
by Samuel W. Taylor
In the grand scheme of Robin Williams's filmography, Flubber is often overlooked. Naturally, it's overlooked because it's a weak film that contains a few laugh-out-loud moments. Williams was known for his wacky, larger-than-life characters (at least in his comedies), but his turn as Professor Philip Brainard is surprisingly subdued and tame. Flubber suffers from an unfocused story and stale characters. The funniest moments come from watching people bounce across the room when they come into contact with the flubber. When you have Robin Williams at your disposal and he isn't the funniest part of your family comedy, something is amiss.
Considering Flubber's cast of accomplished character actors, it's a wonder they didn't help the movie. From the get-go, it's clear that Christopher "Shooter McGavin" McDonald is the main villain, but then we're introduced to Raymond J. Barry's rich guy villain and his two henchmen. It's not clear until the end how these two stories are connected and by then, it feels tacked on and pointless. I will give credit where its due, though. Clancy Brown and Ted Levine were entertaining as the two henchmen. I never see them in comedic roles, but they pulled it off.
I understand that Flubber is meant for kids, which is who the green, mambo-dancing goo is meant for. Still, I find that this film suffers the same problem that affects a great deal of sci-fi films with inventors. Once again, they gloss over the fact that Professor Brainard has created artificial intelligence. It's irritating that a film based around science would ignore a discovery of this magnitude. It's lazy writing like this that ruins Flubber and makes it one of Robin Williams's most lackluster films.