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Walt Disney was known as a guy who wasn’t fond of sequels. Having said that, here we are taking a look at the sequel he made to The Absent-Minded Professor: Son of Flubber! Apparently, the main reason that this sequel was made was because there were leftover gags from The Absent-Minded Professor…and it shows! Let’s take a look at one of the last (if not the last) black-and-white film from Disney: Son of Flubber!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film begins with Professor Brainard, played again by Fred MacMurray, flying his car to Washington D.C. along with his apprentice student, Biff, played again by Tommy Kirk. Professor Brainard is optimistic that the government will pay him a lot of money for his Flubber invention, however they take full ownership of Flubber and send Professor Brainard home without so much as a penny!
This is a huge disappointment as Professor Brainard wanted to donate some of the money to Medfield College where he works and his wife, Betsy, played again by Nancy Olson, wanted to use some of the money to run the household as their personal finances are in shambles. To top it all off, advertising companies wanted to push a number of Flubber-based products, but now that the government owns the invention, that plan is thrown out the window!
Even the IRS agent doesn’t give them a break! But, Professor Brainard isn’t despondent as he’s currently working on a new invention: a weather-controlling device! He builds a “ray gun” of sorts in his workshed and tests it out by aiming it at steam produced from his tea kettle. This results in a cloud forming leading to indoor rain in his kitchen!
He begins to tell Betsy the good news, but she’s too busy preparing for dinner as she has invited guests over. It turns out that she’s invited Professor Brainard’s “nemesis of sorts” from the first film, Professor Shelby Ashton, played again by Elliott Reid, who was also romantically interested in her. He also brings along a date, Desiree de la Roche, played by Joanna Moore, who used to date Professor Brainard back in the day. Professor Brainard and Desiree are ecstatic to see each other resulting in Betsy getting quite jealous!
Later on, Professor Brainard continues experimenting with his ray gun and aims it at a big cloud over the city. However, it doesn’t seem to cause any precipitation! But unbeknownst to him, it causes much of the glass in the city to shatter!
Before he can figure out what’s wrong, Betsy has now left the house after the two of them quarrel due to Betsy’s jealousy. He tries to get in touch with her to win her back (as well as to get some food since apparently he can’t cook), but to no avail. He manages to bump into her at a Halloween party hosted by Professor Shelby (dressed as Neptune) wherein he gives my favorite line in the movie.
The next day, Professor Brainard receives a visit from shady insurance man, Alonzo Hawk, played again by Keenan Wynn. Mr. Hawk has insured much of the glass in the city and after Professor Brainard’s experiment the other day, he’s forced to pay a lot of money for the damages! However he’s put two and two together and realizes that Professor Brainard’s ray gun is the cause for the glass destruction. He offers Professor Brainard a partnership in a glass insurance scam which the professor turns down. Mr. Hawk isn’t happy with this answer and threatens to take the professor to court to cover his losses.
By now, Biff has realized that Professor Brainard’s invention could help Medfield College win their football game. This leads to a pretty funny football game segment even more funnily commentated on by Paul Lynde (in his first film) and Clegg Hoyt.
Afterwards, Professor Brainard is arrested as Mr. Hawk sues him for the glass damage and a trial is held. The trial seems to be going badly for the professor until an agricultural agent played by Ed Wynn appears as a witness. He says that Professor Brainard’s ray gun produces something called “dry rain” in clouds. It’s invisible rain that results into fruits and vegetables growing to an enormous size!
Professor Brainard is acquitted and he and Betsy reunite as a happy couple.
And that was Son of Flubber! And yeah, it’s a much more inferior follow-up to The Absent-Minded Professor with its main complaint being how unfocused it is! We have a chance at a Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs-esque story and instead we have random subplots of a love triangle, glass scam, and football game. That’s not to say that all these scenes were a drag (the football game is quite entertaining), but it’s clear that there was no overall story holding this film together!
The visual effects were also a bit disappointing compared to the first film. I guess the best thing about the film is the acting. Everyone was superb as expected, with maybe the exception of Tommy Kirk.
All in all, you’re not missing anything if you haven’t seen this film. It’s not horrible, but you’re not missing anything.
So, my final score for this film is 22/35 = 62.86% (D-) !
The next review will be posted on February 7, 2023.
2 thoughts on “Son of Flubber (1963)”
I first saw this film in Feb. 1974 on a double bill w/ Disney’s “Superdad”, which certainly made this one look superior. I mostly remember the football game, which Paul Lynde helped make a lot funnier. Like you, I didn’t like most of the rest of the film that much, which I saw on Disney Channel years later. You didn’t mention Ned’s cruelty to Shelby, who was driving home after the party. In a variation of Ned’s “Shelby Stomp” in the first film, where Ned crushed Shelby’s car w/ Shelby in it, this time he nearly drowned Shelby (in his Neptune costume) in his car as Ned flew over Shelby’s car and made it storm inside. I guess by this time I had the image of Fred MacMurray as Steve Douglas and I didn’t think it was something Steve should do. (Of course MacMurray played much worse characters in other movies not long before this time.)
You’re right: when compared to Superdad, this is such a great movie, lol!
Yeah, Ned did almost drown Shelby! I guess it didn’t leave an impact on me since the scene seemed copied from the original film.