is a 1997 movie starring Robin Williams
, and a remake of 1961's The Absent-Minded Professor
Williams plays Professor Phillip Brainard, an Absent-Minded Professor
-type searching for an energy-based scientific breakthrough in order to save his college from closing for lack of funding. He stumbles across such a creation in the form of "flying rubber" (the eponymous "flubber"), a physics-defying green rubber-like substance that can somehow both bounce with inexhaustable kinetic energy and defy gravity. With it and the help of his Robot Buddy
, Weebo, Brainard hopes to save his college and his relationship with his long-suffering fiancee Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds (Marcia Gay Harden), while fending off an Obviously Evil
rival and his corrupt Dean, who try to steal Flubber for themselves.
Since this is not only a live-action Disney film, but a remake of same from the '60s, you know there's a Mega Happy Ending
in the offing.
Flubber contains examples of the following tropes:
- Absent-Minded Professor: A genius innovator of robots, flubber, and Rube Goldberg contraptions, but don't expect him to arrive at his own wedding on time (which he missed four times). It's also a remake of the Trope Namer, The Absent-Minded Professor.
- And This Is for...: Sara yells "This is for Weebo!" when throwing Flubber at the Big Bad.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The film had one instance of "damn" very obviously inserted just to earn the film a PG rating. Strangely enough, when later aired on TheWonderful World Of Disney, it had the word seamlessly removed to bring it back down to TV-G.
- Brick Joke: One scene has a boy who's afraid to go to sleep, so his father shuts the window in his room to reassure him that nothing can get in. Cue Flubber smashing through the window and bouncing around the room. At the end of the movie, the same boy's riding an airplane, with his father once again reassuring him that there's nothing all the way up in the sky. The boy looks out the window, and sees Brainard's flying car driving next to the plane (with Flubber riding in it.)
- Butt Monkey: Smith and Wesson.
- Phillip is very often engaged in comical mishaps from his experiments.
- Wilson takes blows several times.
- The whole neighborhood when the flubber first escapes.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Chester Hoenicker. Also, Phillip's rival, Wilson, who we find out even works for Hoenicker in the end. He not only admits he's been stealing his ideas for his own benefit as a result of that, but outright boasts he now wants to steal his fiancée. In his very first scene he says the following:
Wilson: "I'm here this weekend to steal your fiancee, and make her my wife."
- Character Death: Weebo is critcally damaged by robbers. Philip talks about "downloading her" in order to cheat death but he doesn't get to it in time so she's Killed Off for Real
- Deadly Dodging: At the fight at the end of the film, two of the mooks are taken out by Brainard using Flubber to bounce out of the way of their fists, forcing them to punch each other instead.
- Death of the Hypotenuse: Weebo dies before the climax, thus leaving the Love Triangle missing a point. It verges on Spurned Into Suicide given that she deliberately hid her own blueprints.
- Destination Defenestration: The Big Bad is knocked out a window and into a pool of water.
- Do Androids Dream?: Briefly touched on when Weebo "dies". ("What happens to the soul of a machine, Sara?") Technically he should be able to just rebuild her, but he talks about her creation being a "marvelous accident", i.e. he doesn't know how to. Also Weebo hid the knowledge from him out of jealousy. She didn't want to share him with other models.
- Dude, He's Like, In a Coma! - Weebo eventually creates a holographic projection of herself in order to try and have a physical relationship with the professor... when he's asleep.
- Emerald Power: The titular Flubber is a sentient mass of green goo.
- Evil Plan: Wilson comes right out and admits it. "I'm here this weekend to steal your fiancee, and make her my wife." Though he also wants to steal the Flubber formula.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- See Dude, He's Like, In A Coma! above. And it is not subtle at all.
- "Go home and play with your rubber." We know Brainard created Flubber, but Wilson doesn't — meaning he probably meant something closer to masturbation.
- His Name Is...: Weebo's last action is to flash a mysterious filename up on her screen, which turns out to be the blueprint for her 'daughter'.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Weebo not only helps get Phillip back together with Dr. Reynolds, she intentionally alters her own design so her own feelings won't interfere with their relationship. Then refers to it as her 'daughter' to make absolutely sure.
- It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: Wesson calls Phillip "Ein-STEEN," prompting the professor to correct him ("Ein-STEIN").
- Jerkass: Wilson.
- Loophole Abuse: When the opposing coach in the basketball game calls shenanigans over the other team's Flubber-enhanced jumping abilities, the ref simply tells him that there's no rule about jumping too high.
- Mood Whiplash: Weebo's death adds a disturbingly tragic end to that subplot and serves as a surprisingly dark element to an otherwise cheerful film. A film that also showed people getting smacked in the head with bowling balls from so high in the sky that they can't be seen until just before they hit you without suffering any dramatic pain.
- Nepotism: The Big Bad doesn't like Phillip because he gave his son a failing grade, resulting in his being dropped from the team.
- No One Should Survive That:
- Wesson is repeatedly hit on the head by a BOWLING BALL, either falling from a great height or (in the first instance) moving at an incredible speed.
- Sara jumps on Smith's head, although as he does not get back up after this it is left ambiguous as to whether he is dead or unconscious.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The film's reason for why Weebo is unique and Phillip won't be able to repair her is this trope. Phillip claims her sentience was an accident, and he tried several times to recreate this event with no success. Later, in Weebo's post-mortem video file, she explains that she hid the plans, notes, and ideas to make her. In this same video she reveals that she kept a copy of her design specs in case she died.
- Perpetual Motion Machine: Flubber is a perpetual motion substance.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: It's a Zigzagged Trope
- Brainard to stalk and antagonizes Wilson but it's treated like Rule of Funny and in any case, Wilson is a Jerkass.
- Brainard secretly implements flubber technology on a basketball team so his college will win the Big Game. In one scene he says all his inventions are meant to support this college, and so that's why he's doing.
- He gets flack from everybody for continually standing up his finance at the altar. The only exception, ironically, is the jealous robot.
- Punny Name: The two thugs are named Smith and Wesson.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Again, it's a complicated instance. It's basically because he's so absent-minded that he gets too caught up in the invention themselves to capitalize on them.
- He invented a Robot Buddy but it was accident and can't create a second one. Weebo deliberately sabotages him in this instance.
- He invented a flying car but it doesn't occur to him to sell the design until Sara reconciles with him. He's very excited about the deal: "I've never seen so many zeros!"
- He invented Flubber specifically so he would have something to sell, and the flying car came after this.
- The Remake: Of The Absent-Minded Professor.
- Runaway Groom: Brainard skips his own wedding three times - by simply forgetting to show up. A rare example of the trope where the man does the leaving and is presented as sympathetic and also rare in that it doesn't present the other party as evil or disposable. Sarah has this scene where she explains to her bridesmaids that "Once is natural, twice is....understandable but three times...." In the end, he still can't show up to his own wedding. The only reason the wedding happens at all is because they video conference it with Weebo's daughter. At least he remembered to dress for the occasion.
- Running Gag: The boy keeps seeing Brainard's antics.
- Shout-Out: Flubber is referenced in Journey Into Imagination With Figment's queue, where you can see an office door with the name "Professor Philip Brainard" on it.
- Slap Stick: The movie clearly uses the laws of slapstick regarding the ability of objects to bounce and violently (but harmlessly) knock people over. Strangely averted when Weebo dies from being whacked in the "face" with a baseball bat.
- Smug Snake: Wilson Croft.
- Social Darwinist: One of the reasons Wilson claims justified stealing Phillip's ideas. And also cause he's a jerkass (see previous trope).
- Speaks in Shout-Outs: Weebo.
- Spoiled Brat: The Dean's son, who bribed his teachers for good grades.
- Tempting Fate: During the successful wedding.
Brainard:These two chemicals will absolutely work together! Nothing.. Could.. Go... Wrong! *Cue explosion*
- That Came Out Wrong: It takes a few tries for the Big Bad to elucidate that "give it to him" means handing Phillip the squirt gun, rather than squirting him with it.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Smith and Wesson.
- What Does She See in Him?:
- Considering all of Phillip's many faults, how did Dr. Reynolds ever get to the point of marrying him? Considering that she did get to that point, why do they still bug her so much and she does nothing to accommodate them? It isn't until the film's finale that she lets the daughter of Weebo take his place at the wedding to ensure he's there in some form while he works... though this technically means he considered his job more important than his own wedding.
- It's also worth asking what she saw in Wilson since he's openly a slimeball who even uses her when he treats her gentlemanly. Admittedly, if she was willing to put up with Brainard's constant ditching of her, she was probably just happy to date a guy who actually showed up.