“Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made” stars Winslow Fegley, Craig Robinson, Chloe Coleman, Ophelia Lovibond, and Wallace Shawn. Released on Disney+ on February 7, 2020, the film is about a young boy who runs a detective agency.
The film is directed by Tom McCarthy, who also directed films such as “The Visitor”, “Win Win”, and “Spotlight”. It is based on the book series of the same name by Stephan Pastis, who wrote the film’s screenplay with McCarthy. Last weekend, we had an unfortunate shortage of new films in theaters as we only have “Birds of Prey” to keep us entertained until this weekend. You know what that means? That’s right, it’s time for me to look at a new film that just premiered on Disney+. Throughout the last couple of years, I occasionally review certain movies on Netflix whenever I don’t have the time to travel to my closest cinema to see one. With the release of Disney+ back in November, I figured that it’s time for me to expand my series of streaming movie reviews a bit, and the best way to do it was by talking about the latest Disney+ original film from writer/director Tom McCarthy. This is McCarthy’s first film in five years following his Oscar win for “Spotlight” as well as his first approach into family-friendly territory since his other films were aimed towards adults. The film made its premiere at Sundance last week, and it has already garnered some pretty good reviews from critics, but is it something that Disney+ subscribers will enjoy as well?
The story mainly focuses on an 11-year-old boy named Timmy Failure (Fegley) whose imagination gets him into a series of situations while “solving” some cases with his imaginary polar bear named Total, and don’t worry, the bear’s not voiced by John Cena. Some of his cases include his missing Failure-Mobile, which is his mother’s (Lovibond) segway. The plot alone does sound suitable for kids when it comes to the imagination, the humor, and the polar bear, but that doesn’t mean that it’s made only for kids. Underneath the child-like wonder is a family-friendly representation of one of the most important phases of adolescence: learning from our mistakes. Without relying on specific shortcuts like potty humor, Tom McCarthy was able to take advantage of this story by balancing the imagination for the kids with the real-life drama for the parents. While the final result didn’t provide anything special to its usual formula, it’s still a heartwarming and enjoyable film that celebrates not just the power of adapting from our mistakes, but also the fact that being different is normal. Newcomer Winslow Fegley did a pretty good job in his role as the title character, who’s described as a quirky, deadpan child whose personal goals for his detective agency overshadow his issues with the real world. His personality can be a bit alienating for some people, but to me, he has that type of charm that reminded me of my own sense of imagination and weirdness. In other words, he’s both unusual and charming. I also thought that Craig Robinson delivered a very respectable performance as Mr. Jenkins, Timmy’s school counselor. Lovibond and Shawn were good as well as Timmy’s mother and Timmy’s teacher, Frederick Crocus, respectively. Another element I appreciated was the film’s humor. As I mentioned before, it didn’t depend on low-class humor such as poop jokes and pop culture references to make the young viewers laugh. Instead, the film consists of visual jokes that almost resemble the “Diary of the Wimpy Kid” films (without the cartoon drawings) and, in some cases, the films by Wes Anderson. It was nicely written, and more importantly, it was funny. Not hilariously funny, but funny nonetheless. Oh, and the polar bear was cute, by the way. I absolutely had no issues with the bear. As for its flaws, the film’s storytelling did falter a lot when it attempted to deliver the emotion to its themes and the pacing can be somehow troubling for children who want fast-paced excitement.
Overall, it doesn’t quite live up to McCarthy’s other works, but “Timmy Failure” has enough heart and humor to satisfy those with a thirst for imagination and drama. Despite its flawed plot and some uneven pacing, this is another win for Disney+ thanks to some likable performances, McCarthy’s direction, its enjoyable humor, and its respectable messages. It’s nice to see that Disney is still making films like this even though we’re still stuck with their live-action remakes of their animated classics. Here’s hoping that we see more of them in the future, especially the ones that are made for the streaming service. If you have Disney+, this is another original film that’s worth checking out.
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