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Flubber (film)

Flubber
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLes Mayfield
Screenplay by
Based on"A Situation of Gravity"
by Samuel W. Taylor
Produced by
  • John Hughes[1]
  • Ricardo Mestres[1]
Starring
CinematographyDean Cundey
Edited by
  • Harvey Rosenstock
  • Michael A. Stevenson
Music byDanny Elfman
Production
company
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution[1]
Release dates
  • November 16, 1997 (1997-11-16) (Pennsylvania)
  • November 26, 1997 (1997-11-26) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States[1]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$80 million[2]
Box office$178 million[3]

Flubber is a 1997 American science-fiction comedy film directed by Les Mayfield (who had previously directed the John Hughes scripted remake, Miracle on 34th Street) and written by Hughes and Bill Walsh. A remake of The Absent-Minded Professor (1961), the film was produced by Walt Disney Pictures and stars Robin Williams, Marcia Gay Harden, Christopher McDonald, Ted Levine, Raymond J. Barry, Wil Wheaton and Clancy Brown, with Jodi Benson providing a voice. The film grossed $178 million worldwide and received negative reviews from critics. In selected theaters, the Pepper Ann episode "Old Best Friend" was featured before the film.

Plot

Absentminded professor Philip Brainard is developing a new energy source, hoping to save Medfield College from closure. His preoccupation with his research has caused him to miss two wedding dates, much to the ire of his fiancée, college president Sara Jean Reynolds. On their third attempted wedding day, Brainard is approached by his former partner Wilson Croft of rival Rutland College, who has profited from stealing his ideas and now intends to steal Sara.

While preparing for the wedding, Brainard has a breakthrough with the help of his robot assistant Weebo, who is secretly in love with him. Their experiment results in a sentient green goo with enormous elasticity and kinetic energy, which wreaks havoc on the neighborhood before the professor recaptures it. Weebo classifies the substance as "flying rubber", leading Brainard to christen it "Flubber". Working on Flubber into the following morning, Brainard realizes too late that he has again missed his own wedding. A heartbroken Sara refuses to hear his explanation, leaving Brainard determined to prove Flubber's worth and win her back.

Medfield College's wealthy sponsor Chester Hoenicker, who is threatening to close the school, sends his henchmen Smith and Wesson to persuade Brainard to give Hoenicker's entitled son Bennett a better grade. Brainard, too busy experimenting with Flubber, unknowingly subdues the goons with a Flubber-coated golf ball and bowling ball. Brainard also uses Flubber to enable his vintage Ford Thunderbird to fly, and overhears Croft make a flirtatious bet with Sara about Medfield's upcoming basketball game against Rutland.

Struggling to confess her feelings for the professor, Weebo creates a holographic human version of herself and tries to kiss a sleeping Brainard, but he awakens with another idea for Flubber. Sneaking into the vacant basketball arena, he tests the effects of Flubber on a basketball and his shoes, allowing him to bounce incredibly far. At the game, he secretly applies Flubber to the abysmally unskilled Medfield team, enabling them to beat Rutland, but his attempt to win back Sara fails. Meanwhile, a mischievous Weebo releases Flubber to dance around the house.

Returning home, Brainard releases his emotional baggage to Weebo, declaring that his absentmindedness is due to his love for Sara. Weebo, putting the professor's happiness before her own, shows Sara footage of Brainard's declaration, and the couple reconciles. Brainard demonstrates Flubber's abilities to Sara, but Hoenicker has discovered Flubber's profitable potential, offering to buy it and forgive the college's debt. Brainard and Sara refuse, making a deal with the Ford Motor Company instead and saving the school. Hoenicker sends Smith and Wesson to raid Brainard's house, where Weebo attempts to fend them off but is destroyed as they steal Flubber.

Mourning the loss of his beloved robot, Brainard discovers a farewell video from Weebo along with a backup of herself, her "daughter" Weebette. Brainard and Sara confront Hoenicker under the guise of selling him additional Flubber, and discover he is in league with Croft. Unleashing Flubber, Brainard and Sara defeat Croft, the Hoenickers, and their henchmen. Some time later, the happy couple finally have a successful wedding, and embark on their honeymoon in the flying Thunderbird with Weebette and Flubber.

Cast

Voice Cast

  • Jodi Benson as Weebo
  • Julie Morrison as Weebette, Weebo's daughter
  • Scott Martin Gershin as Flubber

Additionally, Nancy Olson makes an uncredited appearance as a Ford Company Secretary. Olson previously portrayed Betsy Carlisle in The Absent-Minded Professor and its sequel, Son of Flubber.[4]

Production

Filming began in 1996 in San Francisco on Treasure Island in Building 180 and Hangar 3. Sets constructed there included the basketball court, a duplicate of the Professor's house, where some exterior and all interior shots were produced, a separate set portraying the basement of the house, and Hoenicker's library. Many exterior shots of Brainard's house were shot in San Jose at a home that was temporarily modified, including the addition of an observatory on the roof.[5]

Sara Jean's office, Hoenicker's living room, and most exterior campus shots were produced at a private girls' high school on the San Francisco peninsula. The exterior shot of the Rutland gym was shot at Stanford. Some scenes were filmed on campus at San Jose State University in Washington Square Hall during production in 1997.[6] The shot of the Professor and Sara Jean floating through the clouds in the Thunderbird was filmed at the former Mare Island Naval facility in Vallejo, California. Other scenes were filmed at the University of the Pacific, Stockton.

Gag homages

Many gags are embellishments from the 1961 film; John Hughes rewrote the original Bill Walsh screenplay (based on Samuel W. Taylor's short story A Situation of Gravity, originally published in the May 22, 1943, issue of Liberty magazine). Although Walsh died in 1975, he received posthumous credit for this script.

Release

Flubber was released on VHS and Laserdisc on April 21, 1998.[7] The DVD was released on June 16 of the same year, with the film's original theatrical trailer as a bonus feature.

Reception

Box office

Flubber grossed $93 million in the United States and Canada, and $85 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $178 million.[3]

The film opened alongside Alien Resurrection, and was projected to gross around $32.5 million in its five-day Thanksgiving opening weekend.[8] It went on to debut to $26.7 million (and a total of $36.4 million over the five), topping the box office.[9] It fell 58% to $11.3 million in its second weekend, remaining in first.[10]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 23% based on 35 reviews, with an average rating of 4/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "With its overactive focus on special effects and tiresome slapstick, Flubber squanders the immense talent of its cast and crew."[11] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 37 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[12] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on a scale of A+ to F.[13]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Flubber". American Film Institute. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  2. ^ "Flubber (1997)". The Numbers. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Flubber". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
  4. ^ "Where the Flubber Meets the Road". D23. March 10, 2011.
  5. ^ "SJSU Facts: 1980 to 1999". San Jose State University. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  6. ^ "SJSU Facts: 1980 to 1999". San Jose State University. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  7. ^ Fitzpatrick, Eileen (February 7, 1998). "Fox to Roll Out Animated Push for Anastasia". Billboard. p. 91.
  8. ^ "Holiday Box Office Pits 'Alien' Against 'Flubber'". Los Angeles Times. November 29, 1997.
  9. ^ "Strong Box Office Sales Give 'Flubber' Opening Bounce | The Spokesman-Review". www.spokesman.com.
  10. ^ "Domestic 1997 Weekend 49". Box Office Mojo.
  11. ^ "Flubber (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  12. ^ "Flubber Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  13. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Flubber" in the search box). CinemaScore. Retrieved July 10, 2021.

External links

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