Professor Philip Brainard (Robin Williams) is a genius, an inventor and a scientist. But he’s also hopelessly chaotic, and he’s under a lot of pressure. He desperately needs to come up with a groundbreaking and lucrative invention if he wants to save his college from being closed down. He also needs to fend off his archrival, Wilson Croft (Christopher McDonald), who’s not only trying to steal his ideas but also his fiancée Sara (Marcia Gay Harden).
Then something amazing happens! One of Philip’s experiments produces a mysterious green goo. It has incredible elastic and bouncy qualities and is a source of enormous energy, but it also has a mind of its own. Philip’s robot assistant Weebo (voiced by Jodi Benson) describes it as flying rubber, which inspires Philip to call his invention ‘flubber’.
But flubber brings new challenges. Philip must learn to control his bouncy goo and protect it from getting into the wrong hands. He also needs to win back Sara’s heart because he has now missed his own wedding for the third time because of flubber.
Science fiction; fantasy; action comedy; slapstick humour
A lot of the comedy in Flubber comes from slapstick violence, and the movie often trivialises the effects of this violence. For example:
- Two men are hired to spy on Philip and steal flubber, and these men repeatedly get hurt. For example, they’re hit in the head with golf balls and bowling balls. In the movie, they end up with lumps on their heads. In real life, they’d be seriously hurt if not killed.
- Before Philip learns how to control flubber, it causes a lot of damage in the neighbourhood. It repeatedly traumatises a little boy.
- Wilson accidentally swallows flubber. He’s very uncomfortable until he violently farts out the flubber and then collapses.
- One of the henchmen violently bashes Weebo with a baseball bat. She gets damaged beyond repair and ‘dies’.
There are no sexual references in Flubber.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There’s no use of substances in Flubber.
Nudity and sexual activity
Flubber has some mild nudity. For example, Philip absent-mindedly walks into a classroom to give a lecture on energy and doesn’t realise he’s interrupting an art class featuring a male and a female model in the nude. Both male and female models have sheets wrapped around their lower halves, and the female model crosses her arms in front of her body completely covering her breasts. Nothing explicit is seen.
The following products are displayed or used in Flubber: Ford and Mercedes.
Flubber has some coarse language and insults, including ‘jerk nut’ and ‘morons’.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Flubber is a 1997 science fiction action comedy, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and based on 1961’s The Absent-Minded Professor.
Robin Williams shines and the story is captivating. Unfortunately, the excessive use of slapstick humour and violence and the lack of consequences for poor behaviour like cheating, stealing and violence makes the movie unsuitable for children under 6 years. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged 6-9 years. Flubber is probably best suited to families with children aged 9 years and older.
The main messages from Flubber are that it’s important to persist and not give up when you’re confronted with setbacks.
Values in Flubber that you could reinforce with your children include persistence, innovation, creativity and priorities.
Flubber could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues and consequences like the following:
- Getting your priorities wrong: Philip misses his own wedding 3 times because he gets distracted. This breaks his fiancée’s heart and nearly means the end of their relationship.
- Cheating: Philip uses flubber to manipulate the outcome of a basketball game. He does this by smearing flubber on the players, which means they can jump extremely high and so on. Although this is very funny and leads to a completely unexpected and spectacular win for the team, it’s still cheating and unfair on the other team.