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Movie Reviews




Released: February 6th 1998 (UK)

Director: Les Mayfield

Stars: Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden

Certificate: U (UK)

Reviewer: Luke Walkley

There are many films that we will all remember from our childhood. In our innocence we may consider them to be good films and essentially most of them are sufficient in their roles as ‘Kids Films’. Flubber is one of those films.

The story behind the film is probably more interesting that the film itself. Actually a Disney release, Flubber had a controversial pre-production. Steven Spielberg was set to be executive producer, but Robin Williams, his first choice for the role, was locked in an argument with Disney following Aladdin and the Prince of Thieves. So Spielberg pulled out, only for Williams to agree to the role less than a month later.

Robin Williams plays Professor Phillip Brainard, an offbeat lecturer that creates a rubber like substance called Flubber. Along with his other invention – a self propelled, interactive robot called Weebo (Jodi Benson, The Little Mermaid) he hopes to save the college he works at when it is threatened with closure. He competes for the attention of Dr Reynolds (Marcia Gay Harden, Millers Crossing) with Mr Not-So-Nice Wilson Croft (Christopher McDonald, Happy Gilmore). As well as the personal conflict, Croft works with Chester Hoenicker (Raymond J Barry, Training Day) A man determined to get his hands on ‘Flubber’ who happens to be the man behind the proposed school closure.

So despite being choc-full of storyline clichés, Flubber at least attempts to be unique with its plot. Robin Williams is an extremely funny man by trade, though he falls into the trap that many family films set. He has to tone down his comedy and in ‘Flubber’ he swaps it for the fumbling Professor role. While there are moments of his quirky comedy, they are far too infrequent.

The most impressive character is the floating robot, Weebo. For 1997 the animation is of a very high standard and the small screen attached to her shows small clips to express her feelings, similar to Bumblebee’s voice in the Transformers series, it helps to provide a few comical moments. Weebo also has the greatest character development and in essence becomes the only person the viewer becomes attached to in the film.

The ‘Flubber’ itself is animated to a decent standard also, though it is used only for slapstick moments. There is also a lack of interaction with its creator, despite its apparent ability to dance and squeak when it comes into contact with other people.
The jokes are weak but the dialogue is even worse, there is no chemistry between Williams and Harden and as such the film is unable to appeal to anyone above the age of 12. All in all, Flubber is nothing more than an acceptable kids film, it’s just a shame that the great visual effects are lost in the mess of the screenwriting.

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