20 July 2010 | Electrified_Voltage
Maybe slightly inferior to "The AbsentMinded Professor", but still not exactly a bad family film
I first saw 1997's "Flubber", starring Robin Williams, not long after it was released on video, and never knew it was a remake at the time, but found that out around the time I watched the movie again many years later. That was how I later got around to watching the original 1961 film, "The AbsentMinded Professor", starring Fred MacMurray. It's been nearly a year and a half since I watched that film, but I still remember thinking it was better than the lacklustre remake. "Son of Flubber" is the 1963 sequel to the 1961 live action Disney movie, so I was bound to end up watching it eventually. As with most sequels, I was expecting this one to be downhill from the original, and I think it is (just slightly), but it's definitely still better than the 1997 movie.
Professor Ned Brainard has introduced his invention of Flubber to the U.S. military, but when he goes to get paid for his amazing invention, he learns that the Pentagon has decided that the substance must be kept top secret, and they can't give the professor his payment for it yet. This doesn't help the fact that the future of Medfield College is once again in jeopardy due to financial problems, and that Ned and his wife, Betsy are broke and get a huge tax bill. However, the absent-minded physical chemistry professor has a new discovery which he hasn't unleashed upon the world yet. It's called Flubber gas, and it can change the weather! He believes this new gas can end his current troubles, and Biff Hawk plans to use it to help the college football team win a game. However, as Ned experiments with this Flubber gas, he ends up causing trouble which he is unaware of, and he also finds that his marriage is in trouble.
This sequel didn't seem that interesting to me at first when I got around to watching it, but that soon changed. As a comedy, "Son of Flubber" certainly isn't hilarious, but the gags are often funny, even if there are no huge laughs. Memorable ones include the scenes with a certain Medfield College football player's uniform filled with Flubber gas, Ned making it rain inside with his new invisible substance and the way the dog reacts to it, and the professor not realizing that the Flubber gas is making glass shatter all over town, with people not knowing how it's happening! However, there also may be times when it gets a little too silly, and I wouldn't say most of the film is really that funny. Still, at least I can say I laughed at times, definitely more often than I did when I last watched "Flubber", the 1997 film. Aside from the humour, the story isn't exactly great, but it was enough to hold my interest, at least somewhat, though it did seem a tad overlong to me. I also think the cast is mostly good here, including Fred MacMurray.
Since I waited quite a while to watch this sequel after watching "The AbsentMinded Professor" early last year, they're not as easy for me to compare as they would be if I had watched one just after the other. However, I clearly remember that I wasn't amazed by the 1961 Disney film, but still thought it was pretty good family fare, and unsurprisingly a case where the original is superior to the remake. This 1963 sequel isn't as popular as its predecessor, and even though I watched it a while after the original, I guess I can understand that, but it does come close in quality. Neither is an absolute classic (many animated Disney films that Walt Disney was around to produce are superior to these two live action ones made only several years before his death), but they still have their charm decades after they were originally released in the early 60's, even if this one was more of a cash-in and didn't have much new to offer after the original.