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seen december 2 , 1997 at 6 : 50 p . m . at the glenwood movieplex cinemas ( oneida , ny ) , theater #3 , by myself for free ( free pass ) .
[theater rating : * * * : good seats , sound , and picture]
there are many philosophies as to why we are so fascinated with cartoons .
they provide a method of total escapism in which anything will work within their context , from the outrageous slapstick of looney tunes to the intensity of japanimation .
watching " flubber " really clinched this idea for me , because it's just a live action cartoon that presents itself as a regular comedy .
it proves how painfully unfunny all those gags and slapstick would be in reality , and how important it is to actually have a story .
the film wastes no time in establishing its lighthearted , cartoony atmosphere .
we meet medfield college chemistry professor phillip brainard ( williams ) , the typical , supposedly likable mad scientist .
within the first 10 minutes we get at least a half dozen jokes about how forgetful he is .
phillip's memory loss seems less like a cartoony gag and more like a real case of alzhiemer's disease - isn't this rather lowbrow comedy ?
he starts teaching chemistry after walking in on a nude figure drawing class ( an inappropriate joke for a kids' movie if i ever saw one ) .
we learn he has stood his up fiancee , sara ( harden ) , twice at the altar simply because he's forgotten .
sara claims to love him , but says if he forgets the wedding again she'll stop loving him ( a sign of childish attitude the film denies it has ) .
but even cartoons must have conflicts to resolve , and it's no surprise the major conflicts here are related .
christopher mcdonald does and even worse version of his usual villain shtick as wilson croft , a scientist who not only wants to steal phillip's ideas , but his woman too .
what's worse is that sara actually seems interested in him !
wilson works for a rival college that wants to buy out medfield , which is going broke , unless phillip can invent something to save the day .
one of the first rules of filmmaking is to make sure the title has something to do with the film .
the flubber is played for gags after it is introduced , but is all but forgotten about thereafter .
it's obvious phillip is going to accidentally invent flubber , a flying rubber compound that yields tremendous energy , and the promotions make the flubber look realistic and funny .
unfortunately , the flubber , like all the special effects in this film , looks very fake and unconvincing .
flubber also seems to have intelligence and a personality , and by the time it performs a song and dance routine , you give up wondering how life could spontaneously come to an inanimate object .
most of the film wanders aimlessly as it relies on the flubber to make for the comedy ( since phillip's absent-mindedness is forgotten about ) and somehow push the story along .
but it's clear how weak this premise is from the get-go and the film just gets worse .
all the jokes involve people getting hit by fast-moving , flubber-powered objects including : bowling balls ; flying cars that don't fly well ; and a basketball team capable of jumping 100 feet into the air .
it's all presented with complete logic , and no one believes flubber exists even when they see it with their own eyes .
during the basketball scene , the coach for the rival team actually says , " i think they might be cheating , " to which the referee replies , " there's no rules about jumping too high . "
" predictable " doesn't begin to describe the motions the film goes through , especially after the halfway point .
and it's not how terribly contrived the plot is , it's the way it's broken down scene-by-scene , with absolutely no transition .
not only that , but all the actors here , especially williams , seem bored to tears .
i'd say 80 percent of all the scenes were shot with a bluescreen , so it's almost forgivable when you realize they're talking to nothing and interacting with nothing .
it's safe to say everything that could be bad about " flubber " is .
the only original element the film has is the world's first romance between a machine and a human .
but this aspect is quite twisted if you think about it , and , like the rest of the film , you won't .