It’s time to look at one of those films where you’ve probably heard of the title even if you don’t really know the synopsis all that well. It’s definitely a movie that has aged pretty well and while it is a bit on the longer side the movie does get to tackle a bunch of genres. I was particularly surprised at the basketball game which was pretty well timed since I had just finished a basketball short about Goofy.
The movie starts off by introducing us to Brainard. He’s a very talented scientist, but he’s also very absent minded to the point where he forgets about anything that isn’t work. He’s already skipped out on his wedding to Betsy twice and now has the choice of going for the third wedding or doing one last experiment. Naturally he chooses the latter option and Betsy decides that she’s had enough. She hangs out with Brainard’s rival to mess with him and is sure that she’ll never get back together with Brainard. The scientist isn’t so sure though and decides to win her over with his new invention…flubber. It’s a substance that keeps on bouncing forever. As a result it even defies gravity.
Right away you can see that Brainard is not one of the better characters. He made his priorities clear from the start. You can only pretend to be so absent minded before it is no longer believable. If he was serious about Betsy then he would have skipped the experiment altogether or he would have left right away when the maid let him know that it was time to go. Since he did not, that should have been game over. As a result this is definitely not a romance that I can get behind. The whole thing just isn’t fair to Betsy. Moreover, Brainard nearly got her fired by bursting into her place of work and distracting her when the boss was giving an important speech.
Brainard can be an entertaining lead when you take away this main plot, but it is hard to do so. His absent minded nature puts him in a tough spot when he ends up butting heads with one of the alumni. (Alonzo) This nearly costs the school a lot of money although in Brainard’s defense I actually think he handled the whole thing pretty well here. The school definitely shouldn’t be bowing to this guy’s threats even if he does provide most of the funding for the school. If you let go of your principles then there’s just nothing left.
Alonzo definitely does make for a great villain though. He does whatever it takes to roll right on his enemies and trample all of their goals. It does take a pretty strong resolve to just jump in like that. He even goes as far as to steal the lead’s car even if it wasn’t his idea. The only time he doesn’t look so good is when he gets tricked near the end. That part was a bit of a stretch since he is usually so cunning. Ah well, you can’t win em all I suppose.
I can’t say that I was a big fan of Betsy though. I do agree with her giving Brainard the cold shoulder and finally declaring it to be over with him, but then hanging around the rival just to spite the lead was a bit much. That could just be a bit petty since it’s obvious she was never interested in him. Betsy should have just gone the solo path and punished anyone who tried to get near her. I think that would have been a very effective and valid way to act without going over the top. Meanwhile we also had Brainard’s dog who was definitely a lot of fun. It’s always nice to have an animal who is just here to help.
One of the best parts of the film is definitely the basketball game that takes place. Since Flubber can make you jump high it stands to reason that this would be incredibly handy in this sport. The home team is apparently pretty terrible to the point where even if their star player hadn’t been flunked you can’t help but feel like they would have lost. The game starts off extremely bad for them and by the end a complete 180 has occurred. It’s definitely pretty fun and I just hadn’t been expecting this to happen so it was a pleasant surprise. Another good parody scene is when the government sees the flying car and they assume it’s either aliens or a foreign government coming in so they scramble all of the fighters.
The humor in the film is just very solid overall. The writing is definitely on point as well. The film is super long so there definitely are some points where it drags on a bit, but for the most part it’s a solid all around experience. There’s a lot that happens in the movie and this gives it time to even introduce running gags. One of these is a cop who is just trying to drink his coffee when people end up running into him. Naturally this doesn’t put him in the best of moods and that makes him a good ally for Brainard to have. Brainard can be quite cunning when necessary and trolls the enemies quite a bit with his car. He also took down a pair of gang members so that was impressive too.
Overall, The Absent-Minded Professor isn’t quite what I expected. I definitely mean that in a good way. This movie had humor, drama, action, tension, adventure, pretty much everything you could want in a film. There’s just a whole lot of events to digest here and flubber also made for a pretty fun invention. If you haven’t seen this film yet then I’d recommend checking it out. I think you’ll like it more than you expect and there’s nothing really wrong for this film. At the most you may just think it should have trimmed some scenes, but it’s still not nearly as drawn out as it could have been thanks to the solid writing.