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The first of the Disney comedies to revolve around characters at Medfield College, a place where all sorts of scientific mishaps occur. Fred MacMurray stars as the brainy Professor Brainard, a genius so absent-minded that he has forgotten to attend his own wedding twice - 3rd time may not be the charm. He engages in his own experimenting in his own little lab set up in his garage. This time, an explosion konks him out and he misses his appointment with his bride-to-be (Nancy Olson) yet again. However, when he wakes up, he finds that he has created the new substance he dubs "Flubber" - short for flying rubber. This stuff creates its own energy - if you roll it up in a ball and bounce it, it bounces higher each time. Of course, his amazing invention does not square things with his fiancee.
In the meantime, the town's rich citizen, Mr. Hawk (Keenan Wynn), makes plans on his threat to tear down Medfield over a past due loan. His son (Tommy Kirk) is the basketball star but is failing Brainard's class. Without this son, the Medfield team are hopeless, especially up against the lean giants of rival Rutland. Brainard, having already converted his old Model-T car into a flying vehicle (using Gamma Rays to regulate the substance), gets his next bright idea - ironing on the Flubber to the soles of the shoes of the Medfield players. In the 2nd half of the game, they bounce all over the place and beat Rutland. Unfortunately, Hawk spots Brainard in his flying automobile and presses him to sell the stuff to the government. When Brainard rebuffs him, Hawk and his son pull the old switcheroo.
As with all the films revolving around Medfield, this stressed the absurd and even the nonsensical - based on Brainard's own involved explanations on how Flubber works, the way it's used on the basketball team doesn't make sense; the players should have been bouncing higher & higher with each bounce. And, they don't start bouncing until they enter the court. But, we let it go, caught up in the whacky and spectacular sight of the game. The story veers into thriller territory in the final act, with Brainard teaming up with his wife-to-be to reclaim his automobile and then winging away towards Washington D.C. MacMurray was just right as the professor, also displaying a mean playful side when he feels he's been wronged. This was mainly for kids, but adults could get something out of it too, relating to Brainard's problems. This was a huge hit for Disney and there was the sequel Son of Flubber in 1963. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10
Absent-Minded Trivia: there was a colorized version released on video about a dozen years ago.
The remake was Flubber in 1997, with Robin Williams taking over the role.
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