Entertainment

Witless ‘Flubber’ A Sloppy, Shameful Remake Of Classic

Robin Williams snagged a big paycheck for making “Flubber.” You shouldn’t blow yours paying to see him.

Other than dollar signs, there’s nothing to suggest why Williams would be attracted to this loud, witless movie. Add “pointless” to that list, since “Flubber” is a remake of “The Absent-Minded Professor,” which had likable characterizations and Fred MacMurray’s easy charm.

This film has neither - its only reason for being is its special effects. This time around, they’ve figured out how to depict flubber, a kind of flying rubber invented by the pathetic professor. And they can show the prof riding around in a flying car more realistically than they could in the original.

But effects are not enough to hang a movie on. You need characters, for instance. In “Flubber,” Williams plays all of his scenes opposite a computer that looks like a flying waffle iron. He tells the computer, “This is a human matter. Not for computers. For people,” but that’s a message lost on the movie, because the computers are more compelling than the people here.

The worst moments come courtesy of another dose of the kind of comic violence popularized by “Home Alone.” Call me crazy, but I’m not amused when I see a guy knocked out with a bowling ball or a guy breaking his back in a fall or a woman digging spike heels into a guy’s face.

I’m also not crazy about the fact that “Flubber” has a strong pro-cheating message. Everything about this movie is sloppy and slack, and it trashes the memory of a beloved Disney film in the same way as last year’s “101 Dalmatians.”

Those projects got me thinking that Disney may be planning more crass remakes. Why stop now? How about a “Mary Poppins” in which Mary’s a flying hooker? Or a “Love Bug” in which Herbie loves to smash people under his tires? Or a new “Bambi,” except this time Flower keeps kicking Thumper in the crotch?

MEMO: Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. “Flubber” Location: Newport Cinemas, Spokane Valley Mall, Showboat Credits: Directed by Les Mayfield, starring Robin Williams Running time: 1:23 Rating: PG

2. OTHER VIEWS OF ‘FLUBBER’ Here’s what other critics say about “Flubber:” Michael Rechtshaffen/The Hollywood Reporter: … this latest Disney dust-off has surprisingly little bounce. Both Hughes’ uninspired update and Les Mayfield’s direction lack zip, while even the usually irrepressible Williams appears relatively sedated… Fortunately, the gooey lime element delivers. Matt Crenson/Associated Press: Only The Mouse could get away with a film as flimsy as “Flubber.” … (It’s) accompanied by the now customary marketing onslaught of toys, gadgets and gizmos allegedly composed of the mythical material but actually made entirely of plastic. How apropos. Karen Hershenson/Contra Costa Times: Combining the talents of Williams with this new, improved flubber should have created comic combustion, but that didn’t happen.

Two sidebars appeared with the story: 1. “Flubber” Location: Newport Cinemas, Spokane Valley Mall, Showboat Credits: Directed by Les Mayfield, starring Robin Williams Running time: 1:23 Rating: PG

2. OTHER VIEWS OF ‘FLUBBER’ Here’s what other critics say about “Flubber:” Michael Rechtshaffen/The Hollywood Reporter: … this latest Disney dust-off has surprisingly little bounce. Both Hughes’ uninspired update and Les Mayfield’s direction lack zip, while even the usually irrepressible Williams appears relatively sedated… Fortunately, the gooey lime element delivers. Matt Crenson/Associated Press: Only The Mouse could get away with a film as flimsy as “Flubber.” … (It’s) accompanied by the now customary marketing onslaught of toys, gadgets and gizmos allegedly composed of the mythical material but actually made entirely of plastic. How apropos. Karen Hershenson/Contra Costa Times: Combining the talents of Williams with this new, improved flubber should have created comic combustion, but that didn’t happen.



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