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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain rather than educate.
Timmy learns to take care of himself, trust the adults and kids around him, say he's sorry when it's warranted, and adapt as necessary to be an active member of society.
Positive Role Models
A teacher and a librarian treat Timmy with derision, but the school counselor forges a relationship with him based on respect and kindness. Timmy's mother loves him and works two jobs to make ends meet, while her new boyfriend shares some of his own therapy wisdom with Timmy and tries hard to befriend him. Some of Timmy's classmates value his uniqueness. Fifth graders organize an animal awareness day.
Violence & Scariness
Timmy imagines a car driving through a living room window. When Timmy and his mom's boyfriend try to capture a purse snatcher, a fist fight and minor car accident ensue, mostly played for humor. Timmy and his teacher are in potential danger on a bridge at a dam.
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"Crap," "loser," "dumb," "weirdo."
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Products & Purchases
Portland and its brands -- Voodoo donuts, the Portland Zoo, various food trucks and establishments. Segway. Books by Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Gilbert.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the main character of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is a misfit whose refusal -- or inability -- to be a "normal" kid will resonate deeply with some kids. Still, the film -- based on the popular books -- keeps the tone largely upbeat and humorous, thanks to the boy's outlandish plots, his unique imaginary friend (a bear), and fantasies (like the gloomy "Our Crusher of Souls" middle school), as well as an eccentric cast of Portland characters and settings, sweet friends, and loving adults. Timmy's detective agency, "Total Failure, Inc." and his wild schemes for cracking cases are inventive. Those closest to him consider him positively unique, but one angry teacher and others find him an exasperating nuisance. To get out of trouble, Timmy engages in some white lies to his mother and plenty of delusional thinking (like that he'll open an agency downtown instead of going to middle school). Mild violence is mostly imagined and language is limited to "crap," "loser," "dumb" and "weirdo." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This inventive, book-based movie pulls off the rare trick of being a thinking person's film for kids.The Oregon city that provides the setting for Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made has the unofficial slogan to "Keep Portland Weird." Likewise, this film's tagline could read, "Keep Timmy Weird." The quirky tale celebrates difference, be that in the form of a misfit 5th grader with an exceptional imagination, or in its Portland setting, home to self affirming murals, naked bike races, bearded hipsters, activist kids, and tattooed librarians. "Normal is for normal people," Timmy and his struggling mom say, in defiance as much as self preservation.
Timmy's single-minded, boy-against-world superiority is laugh-out-loud funny, but as it slowly dawns on the viewer that his refusal to adapt is actually problematic for his own well being as well as for the adults who care for him, the film also becomes a poignant psychological study. His imaginary friend and emotional crutch is the polar bear Total, and their tender, E.T.-like hand-to-paw farewell implies a new beginning for the boy.
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