The Absent-Minded Professor

Movie review by
Scott G. Mignola, Common Sense Media
The Absent-Minded Professor Movie Poster Image
'60s classic is sweet, clever, and funny.
  • G
  • 1961
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 5+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational value

Intended to entertain, not educate. 

Positive messages

While humor is mined from Professor Brainard's absent-mindedness, it's shown that while his quirks can be downright maddening for those close to him, his eccentric behavior and thought processes lead to a unique invention. Some people march to the beat of a very different drummer, and that's OK. 

Positive role models & representations

For all his befuddlement and inability to operate on the same schedule as those around him, Professor Brainard also reveals a stern integrity by refusing to change the grade of a star athlete who failed his class. 

Violence & scariness

Comedic pratfall violence. Two henchmen bonk their heads and are knocked out while trying to capture the professor. Two head-on car crashes -- no injuries. Gunshots fired by the antagonist while in pursuit of the professor. 

Sexy stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Wine in a beaker during a scientific experiment. After a man crashes head-on into a police car, the officers force him to take a sobriety test. 

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. 

User Reviews

Parent of a 4 and 5 year old Written bypelotoner January 29, 2011

Mostly family fun, watch the language and gun violence.

Inappropriate language: Shut up, idiot, stupid. Very blatant and easy for the kids to infer usage. Violence: there is a scene where the professor is shot at... Continue reading
Parent Written byStepMomSterToo June 26, 2010
This movie has all kinds of goofy action and funny characters. Nothing offensive about it. A true family movie.
Kid, 12 years old February 1, 2013

One of Disney's Best Comedies

I saw it when I was on a campout for Boy Scouts. All the boys who were watching it thought it was very funny, and they clapped when it was over. Nothing really... Continue reading
Kid, 6 years old January 29, 2012

A Classic, Silly Fun, All White

Our six year old loved it, and her parents enjoyed it too. The "flubber" jumping effects worked because they weren't realistic in the way modern... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

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