TIMMY FAILURE: MISTAKES WERE MADE, the new original film that debuted on Disney+ that past week, is in the same vein as Troop Zero that debuted on Amazon Prime last month (oh hey they both start with a T too!). What that means is that it is a cute, passable, one time watch kid film that will make you pine and ache for the better kids films you grew up with back in the 90s/early 2000s (and arguably Big Fat Lair being the last of the greats). Seeing that you are my age reading this, you might now even have a little tyke the same age when you starting watching all that garbage decades ago, and if so, take comfort knowing that he or she will enjoy this much more than you ever will. It’s quirky, it’s weird, it has a life lesson in there about growing up that will go over kids heads, and you know what? That’s okay. I’m giving it a mild recommendation because it doesn’t treat the audience (both big and small) as if they were idiots, something I am afraid will happen to me when I see Sonic The Hedgehog tomorrow (place your bets!). I think the oddest thing about this whole endeavor is that it was written and directed by Tom McCarthy, who has won a damn Oscar for writing Spotlight, and whose other films (such as Win Win, The Station Agent, has received critical acclaim. But then again, he’s also written and directed one of Adam Sandler’s worst films, The Cobbler and is responsible for the so-so screenplay of the recent Christopher Robin. Timmy Failure is more in the Robin camp than the Cobbler thank Christ.
The movie is about, and I’m just going to borrow from IMDB.com on this one, “An 11-year-old boy who believes that he is the best detective in town runs the agency Total Failures with his best friend, an imaginary 1,200-pound polar bear.” It isn’t as zany as it sounds, and I feel like if it went full zany, it would’ve been The Cobbler disaster like proportions. In fact, the treatment of the imaginary polar bear is done quite well and looks quite good considering it is a straight to Disney+ feature (about as good as the effects of the live action Lady and The Tramp). The film ultimately works well because of the quirky of the character of Timmy, and his weird verbal exchanges with his real human friends, his angry teacher (played by the great Wallace Shawn), the school counselor (played by the great Craig Robinson in a role that showcases more of his talents than just weird comedy like The Office), his mom (Ophelia Lovibond, Elementary) and the meter maid man his mom is dating (Kyle Bornheimer, Casual). The only thing that kind of bums me out is that I was hoping for more kid like detective adventures than the one we got. Like real smart yet kooky detective work from the boy. It started out fine when he took the case of a stolen back pack, but then the movie mixes in too much of the boy outlandish imagination involving Russians and a Chinese classmate and several times it crossed the lines of silliness. Thank goodness for those little doses of reality when he snaps out of it than more than made up for the too much silliness at hand. When doing research on this film, there are like 7 books in this series, and maybe this is a pretty faithful adaptation of the first one, here’s to assuming that there is more actual detective work in the other books and if those get made for Disney+ in the future, that they are adapted correctly.
The movie really is a hit and miss type of affair, because you get really well constructed and funny scenes involving Timmy and his friend entering a bank with fencing masks on but then you get a weird damn dam school field trip adventure after, that while having a couple of pretty funny sight gags (especially the last one), it didn’t really work for me in the context of what was going on. The movie truly shines in its last act, the last 30 minutes, when Timmy goes on a little adventure with the meter maid man his mom is dating. The exchanges between the two are light heartened, convincing, and fun and I look back on the entire film and wish that the whole hr and 40 minutes was devoted to those two just solves little insignificant kids cases. Oh well, maybe in the sequels? The newcomer that plays Timmy, Winslow Fegley, is actually quite good. He rides that fine line of being a cute kid with quirks that feels realistic than getting into over-the-top unbelievable territory. He’ll have you chuckling every time he uses the phrase, “Mistakes were made.” I think I’ve said what I needed to say about this film, other than that Disney+ is the perfect platform for it, because it wouldn’t have been seen by anybody in the theaters other than the fans of the novels, and it is better than a lot of the ‘original movies’ that Netflix has to offer. Somewhere right in the middle. Ultimately passable, a mild recommendation, but completely forgettable.