Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Absent-Minded Professor


directed by: Robert Stevenson
starring: Fred MacMurray

Released in 1961.

I watched a lot of classic Disney films, both animated and live-action, growing up, movies made well before I was born.  One of the more memorable of the live-action efforts was The Absent-Minded Professor, which is perhaps better known for the odd scientific breakthrough known as Flubber, made more obvious by the title of its sequel, Son of Flubber, and Robin Williams remake, Flubber.

Flubber is flying rubber, something any kid could easily embrace as a concept, but Fred MacMurray, a famous star in his day for movies like Double Indemnity and the TV show My Three Sons, for slightly more sober uses.  (If you're still having a hard time picturing him, MacMurray also served as the visual basis for Captain Marvel, the same superhero who would later inspire Elvis Presley's late career wardrobe.)

"Slightly more sober" in this instance apparently means enabling his vintage Model T to fly and making basketball games far more interesting by sticking Flubber on the bottom of the players' sneakers.  This means that the team bounces all over the place (like Gummi Bears), an incredible display of aerial acrobatics, and easily wins a crucial game.

So, not very sober at all, but far more sophisticated than simply wadding it into a ball and launching it recklessly into the air, which is what a kid would do.

It's harmless Disney fun, memorable and a fine vehicle for MacMurray.  If you can get your kids to acknowledge that the world existed before computer animated films, The Absent-Minded Professor remains reliable family entertainment.

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