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Film / The Absent-Minded Professor

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I said it's Neddy the Nut flying his... old Model T.

The Absent-Minded Professor is a black and white 1961 live action Disney movie. Professor Brainard, the eponymous Absent-Minded Professor, forgets his wedding, not for the first time, but nonetheless succeeds in inventing a substance, flubber, which has mysterious properties including the ability to add kinetic energy with every bounce and flight. With this substance, he proceeds to foil the amorous attempts of a rival English professor on his fiancee, cause the college basketball team to unexpectedly win their game, and to win the girl. Unfortunately, the only one interested in giving Brainard any money for his invention is Corrupt Corporate Executive Alonzo Hawk, who's threatening to foreclose on the college...

The movie has one sequel, Son of Flubber, made in 1963, and was remade twice, once in 1988 as a TV movie, also titled The Absent-Minded Professor which introduced the idea of a computer sidekick and once in 1997 as Flubber.


This film provides examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Naturally!
  • Ain't No Rule: How Medfield wins - technically, there's no rule that says that one team can't jump higher than the other.
  • Artistic License – Sports: In reality, there is no way the Professor's basketball team could have played with those flubber enhanced shoes for long before a competent referee would have called them for cheating.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The "Shelby Stomp", which ultimately results in a...
  • Chronically Crashed Car: In both movies, police officers Hanson and Kelly's police car keeps getting crashed into by other cars, thanks to Brainard in his Flying Car performing his "Shelby Stomp".
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Brainard, to a degree, whom Biff Hawk calls "Neddy the Nut".
  • Cool Car: It's a Model T! With no engine!
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The main Big Bad, Alonzo Hawk, president of the Auld Lang Syne Loan Company.
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  • Crossover: Alonzo Hawk appears as the same character in both this movie and Herbie Rides Again.note  The fictional Medfield College was also featured as the location of The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and its sequels.
  • Delayed "Oh, Crap!": When Alonzo Hawk sees Brainard flying his car and asks his son Biff what he sees.
    Biff: Oh, it's just Neddy the Nut out flying his old Model T.
    Hawk: Say that again.
    Biff: I said it's Neddy the Nut flying his—(finally gets it).
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Brainard.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Betsy, of all people, gives this zinger when Brainard is attempting to explain how the properties of Flubber led to him missing their wedding:
    Professor Brainard: That's why we call it repulsive energy!
    Betsy: That's exactly the way I feel about it.
  • Dumb Jock: Biff Hawk flunks Brainard's chemistry class, disqualifying him from the big game and making his father upset—at Professor Brainard.
  • Flying Car: If you bombard Flubber with gamma rays it levitates, even if it's attached to a Model T!
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Hawk clearly expects his son Biff to turn out just like him. He doesn't.
    Hawk: (in "Son of Flubber", after the fact) If you weren't deductible, I'd disown you!
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In case you were wondering why Betsy is in love with Brainard rather than Shelby, consider that Shelby's specialty is romance languages and Brainard's is physical chemistry.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Both invoked and parodied in the opening scene of the first movie. It features Professor Brainard attempting to demonstrate this with a trumpet and a glass placed on the table. His playing fails to crack the glass but manages to shatter every other glass object in the room, including beakers full of chemicals that fill the room with smoke as the opening credits roll. He also manages to shatter one student's pair of glasses.
  • Hello Again, Officer: Shelby Ashton and later Alonzo Hawk and his henchmen are all constantly foiled whenever their car crashes into a cop car, which always causes the same two cops in question to spill "BOILING HOT COFFEE!!" in their lap. Needless to say, they promptly arrest them.
  • Inter Service Rivalry: The Army, the Navy, and the Air Force all squabble to get their hands on the rights to flubber.
  • Jerk Jock: Averted. Biff Hawk is the star player of the basketball team, but is actually quite a nice kid - especially when his father's not badgering him to help with the family business.
  • Loan Shark: Alonzo Hawk is president of the Auld Lang Syne Loan Company. An important scene takes place in his warehouse full of repossessed items. This is lampshaded by Biff in Son of Flubber:
    "Pop's the biggest loan shark in the state, and he's proud of it."
  • Loophole Abuse: When the opposing coach in the basketball game calls shenanigans over the other team's Flubber-enhanced jumping abilities, the referee points out that there's no rule that says one team can't jump higher than the other.
  • Meaningful Name: BRAINard.
  • Miraculous Malfunction: The creation of Flubber. Brainard's lab explodes, which was clearly not what he intended - but the Flubber turned out great!
  • Mood Whiplash: In "Son of Flubber", as Brainard is carted off by the police after Medfield wins the football game against Rutland, a bunch of Spinning Papers appear, headlining the trial of Brainard. The music sobers up dramatically, too.
  • Nepotism: Alonzo Hawk is irate at Professor Brainard for flunking his son Biff, making him ineligible to play in the big basketball game, and threatens to pull funding from the college because of it. Brainard points out in his defense that Biff not only answered every question wrong but misspelled the name of the college.
  • Pass the Popcorn: After Brainard and Betsy trick Hawk into wearing a pair of Flubber-shoes and set him bouncing outside, a larger and larger crowd begins to form, until there are snack vendors selling their wares, and even reporters commentating. Even Biff enjoys the show, even as he is trying to call on others to help get his father down safely.
  • Perpetual Motion Machine: Flubber is a perpetual motion substance.
  • Pink Elephants: The police officer assumes that Shelby was drunk and hallucinating when he describes the unseen flying car that gave him the "Shelby Stomp."
    Officer: Oh, that kind of a thing! Well, why don't you just blow into this tube and we'll see if we can't find out where that thing came from.
  • Portmanteau: "Flubber" is a mashup of the words "flying rubber."
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Brainard is shown stalking his jilted ex-fiancee who currently wants nothing to do with him and also terrorizing the man that she's now dating; a character mind you that hasn't really done anything that bad except currently be the main character's romantic rival. Also, basketball players putting flubber in their shoes to make them jump extra high and win the game? Since the audience is on their side, it's a Moment of Awesome. However, if the Opposing Sports Team did it, it would surely be seen as blatant cheating.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Subverted. Brainard tries to sell flubber to the government, but all he talks to are uninterested bureaucrats who don't understand or care. By the time he manages to get someone to come down to check out his invention, it's already been stolen and replaced with a fake by his rival, making him look like a fool. Things work out for the best in the end, however, when he actually flies the car to Washington.
  • Runaway Groom: Brainard skips his own wedding three times— not on purpose, mind you, but because he was too preoccupied with research and just forgot. His poor fiancée is understandably upset.
  • Smug Snake: Shelby, to Brainard's disgust. Also, Alonzo Hawk.
  • Take That!: At the US government. When the military officer is about to fire missiles at the flying car, he hears that it went on the other side of the capital building, but keeps counting down. He is told that Congress is in session, and he keeps counting down. He hears the building just got remodeled, and finally decides to hold his fire.

Example of: