What Is the Movie "The Son of Flubber" About?

by Joshua Wade

"Son of Flubber," starring Fred MacMurray as Professor Ned Brainard, helped to reinvigorate MacMurray's career.

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Released by the Walt Disney Co. and directed by Robert Stevenson, "Son of Flubber" was the first live-action sequel produced by Disney and continues the exploits of Ned Brainard, a college professor (played by Fred MacMurray) who invents a flying, rubbery substance called "Flubber." Released in 1963, "Son of Flubber" proved highly successful for Disney as well as MacMurray and helped pave the way for Disney-produced film sequels and successful film serials.

Background

In an effort to lend credibility to his company and move into the realm of live-action films, Walt Disney began producing full-length, dramatic features in the 1950s. These dramas proved highly successful, prompting Disney to release a string of comedies beginning with "The Shaggy Dog" in 1959. "The Absent Minded Professor," about a scatter-brained college science professor and his invention, "Flubber," followed in 1961 and proved to be a financial success as well as a much-needed career boost for actor Fred MacMurray.

Opening

Ned Brainard's invention, Flubber, hasn't earned him the fame and fortune he imagined at the close of the previous film. His attempts to sell Flubber to the military have stalled, leaving he and his wife Betsy (his fiance in the previous film) financially strained and in trouble with the IRS. Ned has been experimenting with the Flubber formula in the way of a gas which, to his surprise, dramatically effects the weather, causing inopportune storms to appear all over town. The gas has another nasty side effect in that it shatters all the glass in town whenever it is used.

Main Conflicts

The main antagonist in the film is Alonso Hawk, a wealthy businessman who tried to con Brainard out of his Flubber invention in the previous film, as well as foreclose on Brainard's alma mater, Medfield College, should he not allow him the use of Flubbergas. Realizing the side effects of the gas, Hawk has bought stock in a glass company and plans to use the Flubbergas to shatter all the glass in town, prompting townspeople to buy more glass, drive up his stocks, and earn him a fortune. As in the previous film, Ned's personal life is ruined due to his invention, with Betsy walking out on him as his attention is preoccupied with the damage caused by Flubbergas, making her feel neglected.

Similarities with the First Film

"Son of Flubber" follows the same format as the first film, wherein Hawk attempts to foreclose on the school yet again, while at the same time blackmailing Brainard. Likewise, Betsy suspects Ned of cheating on her and walks out on him, only to be consoled yet again by her old friend Shelby, the town police provide comic relief throughout the film, and Ned eventually uses Flubbergas on Medfield College's unsuspecting, lagging sports team to win their football game and save the school. However, Ned is once again caught in the act by Hawk, who takes Brainard to court.

Spoilers

In the end, Ned finds himself in court where it is revealed that, while Flubbergas has the strange side effect of breaking glass, it also stimulates plant growth, creating a surplus of food for the entire state. The governor pays Ned substantially for his invention, money Brainard uses to pay off his own debts as well as those of his beloved college. As in the first film, a humiliated Hawk fades into the distance, his plans ruined. The film closes in the same way as the first film with Ned and Betsy, who has forgiven her husband, flying into the clouds in Ned's Flubber-fueled car.

References

  • "Son of Flubber"; Robert Stevenson, Director; 1963
  • "The Disney Films"; Leonard Maltin; 2000

Photo Credits

  • Getty Images/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images