A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Absent-Minded Professor is a 1961 family comedy about a befuddled yet brilliant professor who comes up with a brilliant invention at the expense of jilting his wife at the altar. Younger kids will enjoy all of the crazy, bouncy action (there's a good dog in it, too), while aspiring athletes will love the Flubber-enhanced basketball game. This is family entertainment at its best: The movie is sweet, clever, and laugh-out-loud funny. There is some comedic pratfall violence: The professor's Flubber-enhanced Model-T causes two head-on collisions between the bad guys and the police, and henchmen are knocked out while trying to catch the professor. The antagonist shoots a gun at the professor while in pursuit.
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What's the story?
In this Disney classic, absent-minded college professor Ned Brainard (Fred MacMurray) keeps forgetting to show up to his own wedding but manages to create an amazing substance called Flubber. Like rubber with wings, Flubber can make an object bounce high up into the sky. Brainard's invention results in many comical situations, including a UFO sighting and a basketball game that's out of this world.
Is it any good?
Unlike the 1990s remake, Flubber, which sacrificed the human element for more showy and less pleasing special effects, this movie is a masterpiece of Disney storytelling magic. Director Robert Stevenson keeps the pace lively and the laughs abundant. Parents might furrow their brows when the professor rigs a basketball game by ironing Flubber to the soles of the home team's shoes. But the payoff is huge once those players take to the court, bounding high over their taller opponents' heads, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
As the title character, Fred MacMurray is irresistible. He's not a nutty professor (that was Jerry Lewis). He's just a simple man of science dedicated to bettering the American way of life. His unflagging sincerity and kindheartedness warm you to him immediately. You want him to succeed. You want him to outwit greedy Alonzo Hawk and save the college from bankruptcy. And for crying out loud, you want to see him finally get to that altar with Betsy and get hitched. On all counts, you won't be disappointed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about real inventions that are almost as amazing as Flubber. Do you think something like Flubber will ever be invented? What are some recent inventions that would astound Professor Ned Brainard?
This movie was based on a short story. What would be the challenges in adapting a short story into a movie?
What similarities and differences do you see in the way college life is depicted in this movie compared to other movies set on or around college campuses?
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