Australian Council on Children and the Media

Flubber

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Short takes

Not suitable under 6; parental guidance to 8 (violence, sad themes, mild coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Flubber
  • a review of Flubber completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 11 August 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Not suitable due to frequent and grossly trivialised slapstick violence, sad themes (loss of an important companion), some mild coarse language.
Children aged 6–8 Parental guidance recommended due to frequent and grossly trivialised slapstick violence, and sad themes (loss of an important companion).
Children aged 9 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Flubber
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: The content is very mild in impact.
Length 96 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Professor Philip Brainard (Robin Williams) is a genius and hopelessly chaotic inventor and scientist, and he is under a lot of pressure: He desperately needs to come up with a ground-breaking and lucrative invention if he wants to save his college from being closed down; and he needs to fend off his arch rival, Wilson Croft (Christopher McDonald), who is not only trying to steal his ideas but also his fiancée Sara (Marcia Gay Harden). Then something amazing happens! One of Philip's experiments produces a mysterious green goo, which has incredible elastic and bouncy qualities, is an enormous source of energy, but also has a mind of its own. Philip's robot assistant Weebo (voiced by Jodi Benson) describes it as flying rubber, which inspires Philip to name his invention "Flubber". However, along with Flubber come new challenges. Philip needs to learn to control his bouncy goo, protect it from getting into the wrong hands, and win back Sara's heart after he stood her up at the altar for the third time whilst getting distracted over inventing Flubber.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Science Fiction / Fantasy; Action Comedy; Slapstick Humour.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

In this movie humour is excessively derived from slapstick violence, and what is problematic is that in many instances the movie grossly trivialises the effects of some of the violent misadventures. Examples include:

  • Two men, who are hired to spy on Philip and steal Flubber, repeatedly get hurt. For example, by getting hit in the head with golf balls and bowling balls. In real life, they would certainly not get away with lumps on their head, but they would most likely die from their injuries.
  • Before Philip learns how to control Flubber, it causes a lot of damage in the neighbourhood, and repeatedly causes a little boy to get traumatised.
  • At some point, Wilson accidentally swallows Flubber, which causes him significant discomfort until he violently farts Flubber out, upon which he collapses.
  • One of the henchmen violently bashes Weebo with a baseball bat. She gets damaged beyond repair and "dies".

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Weebo's death is very tragic and sad and could upset young and/or sensitive viewers.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Ford
  • Mercedes.

Sexual references

  • None noted.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Absent-mindedly, Philip walks into a classroom to give a lecture on energy but he does not realise he is interrupting an art class featuring a male and a female model in the nude. Upon Philip's interruption the models cover their private parts. Nothing explicit is seen. Both male and female model have sheets wrapped around their hips covering all nude bottom parts. The female model crosses her arms in front of her body completely covering her breasts.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Jerk-nut!
  • Morons!

In a nutshell

Flubber is a 1997 science fiction action comedy, produced by Walt Disney Pictures. While Robin Williams shines and the story (based on the 1961 film The Absent-Minded Professor) is captivating, the excessive use of slapstick humour and associated violence, and the lack of criticising or rectifying immoral actions (cheating, stealing, using violence) makes the film unsuitable for children under 6 and warrants parental guidance for children under 9. Best suited to a family audience with children aged 9 and over.

The main messages from this movie are that it is important to persist and not to get defeated and give up when confronted with setbacks.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • persistence
  • innovation
  • creativity
  • thinking about priorities.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Getting so preoccupied with something that you lose sight of other important things: Philip misses his own wedding three times because he gets distracted, which breaks his fiancée's heart and nearly means the end of their relationship.
  • Cheating: Philip uses Flubber to manipulate the outcome of a basketball game. He does this by smearing Flubber on the players which gives them incredible athletic skills (jumping extremely high etc.). While this creates a lot of funny scenes and leads Philip's team to a completely unexpected and spectacular win, parents could point out that technically, this was still cheating and unfair on the other team.

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