Tag Archives: Jodi Benson

My Thoughts on: Flubber (1997)

*This review was requested from a Patreon subscriber as part of his monthly reward

I first watched Flubber years ago (I don’t think I saw it in theaters, but it was still pretty new when I did see it), and I was excited at the chance to get to see it again.

For those who haven’t seen it, Flubber is actually a remake of The Absent-Minded Professor (1961), a film starring Fred MacMurray as the titular professor who discovers “Flubber.” The remake starred the late Robin Williams as Philip Brainard, a brilliant if absent-minded professor who is trying to save the college he teaches at while also trying to hold on to some semblance of a social/romantic life with his long suffering fiancée Sara (Marcia Gay Harden). His life changes when he discovers the miraculous (and seemingly sentient) substance he dubs “Flubber.”

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Considering the film is 22 years old, the CGI for Weebo (Brainard’s floating robot assistant) and especially for Flubber holds up extremely well. Even though Flubber is only a digitally created ball of green stuff, there’s so much life imbued in its movements, that I at least had no problem accepting that it was real, both then and now. And Weebo…I knew there was a reason I remembered that character so much. Weebo (voiced by Jodi Benson no less) is just awesome, and baby Weebo? Melts my heart every time.

That’s not to say that all of the effects held up as well as I remembered. The last fight, for example, where Brainard uses “sprayable Flubber” wasn’t quite as good as I remembered, though I’m not sure how seriously we were supposed to take it. However, one of the things I still found immensely funny was all of the things that Flubber allowed you to do, everything from jumping unnaturally high to helping cars to fly. And Flubber is such a mysterious substance that you really can believe that it can do all of these things.

As much as I enjoyed this film as a child, and still do, it was bittersweet watching Robin Williams do what he did so well, playing a brilliant part and making me laugh as only he could. It’s been almost five years, but it still hurts that he’s gone.

Overall, Flubber holds up as a fun Disney film that you should definitely see if you haven’t already. A big shout-out to @reaperofdarkn3s for requesting a review of this film. Let me know what you think about Flubber in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Film Reviews

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The Little Mermaid “Part of Your World” (1989)

“Part of Your World” is a type of song that can be found in many Disney films. This is the song you hear when the hero/heroine laments how unhappy they are with their lives and how they wish things could be different. Similar songs include “Out There,” “Go the Distance,” “How Far I’ll Go,” and “When Will My Life Begin?” Actually it was “Part of Your World” that started the tradition of heroes/heroines expressing their desires early in the film (although I do feel like Aurora’s “I Wonder” is this type of song as well and that song pre-dates The Little Mermaid by 30 years).

In this song, Ariel is going over her beloved collection of human artifacts and wishing that she could go be with the humans on the surface. Unknown to Ariel and Flounder, Sebastian overhears the entire song, which is a big problem since he could tell King Triton about Ariel’s fascination with human items (which isn’t allowed).

Look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat?
Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?
Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl,
the girl who has everything?

Look at this trove, treasures untold
How many wonders can one cavern hold?
Looking around here, you’d think
Sure, she’s got everything

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
I’ve got whooz-its and whats-its galore
You want thing-a-mabobs? I’ve got twenty
But who cares? No big deal. I want more!

I wanna be where the people are
I wanna see, wanna see ’em dancin’
Walkin’ around on those…
What do you call ’em? Oh, feet

Flippin’ your fins you don’t get too far
Legs are required for jumpin’, dancin’
Strolling along down the…
What’s that word again? Street

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Up where they walk
Up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
Wanderin’ free,
wish I could be
part of that world

What would I give
if I could live
outta these waters?
What would I pay
to spend a day
warm on the sand?

Betcha on land
they understand
Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters
Bright young women,
sick of swimmin’
ready to stand

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And I’m ready to know what the people know
Ask ’em my questions and get some answers
What’s a fire and why does it…
What’s the word? Burn?

When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love,
love to explore that shore up above?
Out of the sea,
wish I could be
part of that world

The song does reveal a bit of naïveté on Ariel’s part (I draw your attention back to the line “Bet they don’t reprimand their daughters”). Ariel seems to be under the impression that if she lived on land with the humans then she would be free to do as she pleased (as opposed to living under the sea forced to abide by her father’s rules). It’s a nice thought, but it’s hardly accurate (note that Ursula doesn’t do too much to dispel Ariel’s romanticized notions of surface life either in “Poor Unfortunate Souls”). It’s also fascinating to see what Ariel has in her grotto as I’m pretty sure books and paintings would not long survive exposure to sea water (however it is a Disney movie so things like this just happen).

Believe it or not, “Part of Your World” almost didn’t make it into the final cut of the film. Jeffrey Katzenberg, then head of Disney, thought the song was boring and that it would go over the heads of children. Fortunately, Glen Keane and Howard Ashman fought to keep the song included and won. Another interesting piece of trivia: that shot of Ariel reaching through the hole at the top of the grotto was the very last shot to be completed and it took four tries to get it right. And to record this song, Jodi Benson actually sang in the dark to get a proper feeling of being “under the sea.”

What do you think of “Part of Your World”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

The Little Mermaid “Daughters of Triton” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Vanessa’s Song” (1989)

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Thumbelina “Marry the Mole” (1994)

Despite earning a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song (the only award Thumbelina picked up), I really like the song “Marry the Mole.” As the title implies, the song features Mrs. Fieldmouse (Carol Channing) convincing Thumbelina (Jodi Benson) as to why she should marry Mr. Mole (who is admittedly very wealthy but also cynical and blind as a bat). From Mrs. Fieldmouse’s point of view, love is highly overrated and it is far better to marry someone who can take care of you financially. I think Mrs. Fieldmouse really believes she wants the best for Thumbelina (even if she does call her stupid more or less later in the song) but it’s still depressing to think of a life where you marry someone ONLY for their money. After all, what’s the good of being fabulously rich if you’re locked up in a dark hole way underground?

 

Ms. Fieldmouse: Love? Love is what we read about in books, my dear.

“Here Comes the Bride” is a lovely little ditty

But marrying for love is a foolish thing to do

‘Cause love won’t pay the mortgage or put porridge in your bowl

Dearie, Marry the Mole!

True, it’s a fact, that he’s not exactly witty

He’s blinder than a bat, but at least his eyes are blue

His breath may be alarming, but he’s charming, for a troll

Dearie, Marry the Mole!

Romeo and Juliet

Were very much in love when they were wed

They honored every vow; so where are they now?

They’re dead, dead! Very, very dead!

Poor Thumbelina, your brain’s so itty bitty!

I hate to seem a pest, but I know what’s best for you

Just think of all the ways that you can decorate a hole!

Take my advice; I’ll bring the rice!

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Dearie, Marry the Mole!

Marry the Mole!

Mar-ry that Mole!

M is for money!

Thumbelina: Oh!

Ms. Fieldmouse: L-E!

I both love and hate that Mrs. Fieldmouse uses Romeo and Juliet as an example of why you shouldn’t marry for love. On the one hand, as soon as she mentions the couple you know where that verse is going (the lovers wind up dead). But then again, Romeo and Juliet is about the worst example of “love” you can possibly choose. Allegedly, Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love in a matter of days (and that’s being generous), get married and promptly kill themselves (that’s an oversimplification but more or less accurate). They barely knew each other so it’s doubtful they truly loved each other (but then again one could also make that argument about Thumbelina and Cornelius’s love since they’ve only met once but that’s besides the point).

What do you think about “Marry the Mole”? Let me know your thoughts about this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

The Little Mermaid “Vanessa’s Song” (1989)

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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When Ursula made the deal with Ariel to make her human for three days so she could attempt to earn True Love’s Kiss from Prince Eric, I’m fairly certain the sea witch thought it was one of the easiest deals she’d ever made. Knowing full well that Ariel had practically no reliable information about life in the human world, Ursula likely thought that Ariel would make a fool of herself and never come close to earning any kind of kiss from anyone, let alone Prince Eric.

So imagine Ursula’s surprise and indignation when Sebastian and Flounder help set up “Kiss the Girl” and come within inches of getting Eric and Ariel to kiss; whether it would have been True Love’s Kiss we don’t really know and Ursula wasn’t willing to find out as she made sure Flotsam and Jetsam (her minion eels) sabotaged the moment by capsizing the boat. The sea witch is furious!

“Oh, she’s better than I thought. At this rate, he’ll be kissing her by

sunset for sure. Well, it’s time Ursula took matters into her own tentacles!

Triton’s daughter will be mine – and then I’ll make him writhe. I’ll see him

wriggle like a worm on a hook!”

Ursula quickly begins preparing a spell and, laughing, transforms into a beautiful human woman with dark brown hair, but still wearing her nautilus shell.

Later that same evening, Prince Eric is still moping about the fact that he hasn’t found that mysterious woman who saved his life (you’d think despite the lack of voice that he’d simply recognize Ariel but it’s never that simple). Grimsby, his long-suffering butler, sympathizes with the prince, but he also gently reminds him that while his mystery woman may never be found, there’s a very real woman inside the castle (indicating the silhouette of Ariel getting ready for bed).

Left alone again, Eric contemplates Grimsby’s words before chucking his flute into the sea and turning to head inside. But before he can leave, a mysterious song begins floating up from the beach. A strange woman  with dark brown hair and a nautilus shell necklace is walking along the beach and singing with Ariel’s voice. A golden tendril of magic flows out from the shell and visibly enchants the prince.

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To Ariel’s horror, Eric announces the next morning that he’s found the woman who saved his life and they’ll be getting married that evening. Ariel cannot see the nautilus shell and so she believes that Eric is genuinely in love with another woman, meaning her entire plan has been for nothing!

As the wedding barge gets under way that evening, Scuttle flies out to check out the ship and is attracted by a beautiful, but strange song coming from one of the cabins. Vanessa (the mysterious woman Eric is marrying) is getting ready for the wedding and singing to herself:

What a lovely little bride I’ll make
My dear, I’ll look divine
Things are working out according to my ultimate design
Soon I’ll have that little mermaid
And the ocean will be mine!

As the blushing bride examines her reflection in the mirror, the laughing face of Ursula peers out instead!! Scuttle can’t believe his eyes, Eric is about to marry the sea witch, Ariel needs to know about this! The frantic bird flies off to warn Ariel and her friends before it’s too late.

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Given that Ursula is using Ariel’s stolen voice, it’s no surprise when I say that Jodi Benson also provided Vanessa’s lines and also performed “Vanessa’s Song” which is really a brief reprise of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (a melody you can hear just as the brief song ends). It really just serves to confirm to the audience and reveals to our heroes that this is indeed Ursula in disguise (though I don’t think there was ever really any doubt for the audience given we witnessed the start of Ursula’s transformation back in her lair).

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What do you think of “Vanessa’s Song”? It’s one of the shortest “songs” in any Disney film, but it is one of my favorite moments as well. I remember as a little kid I would always gasp when the mirror tilted up to reveal Ursula’s reflection. Given her magical skills, it’s a wonder she didn’t keep herself looking like that (or similarly) on a permanent basis. Let me know your thoughts on this song in the comments below 🙂

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See also:

The Little Mermaid “Daughters of Triton” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Part of Your World” (1989)

The Little Mermaid “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (1989)

For more Disney songs, see here

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