Courtesy of Disney
Based on a popular series of books by cartoonist and author Stephan Pastis, “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made” is the latest original film to drop on Disney+ and so far it’s the best of the bunch. Packed with tons of heart, humor, and enough belly laughs to keep adults entertained, “Timmy Failure” is about the titular fifth grader, yearning to become the next great detective in the vein of Hercule Poirot.
Setting up shop in Portland, Oregon, director Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”) turns the beloved children series into a winning and spunky adaptation. Timmy Failure (Winslow Fegley in his first big screen appearance) is an only child living with his single mom (Ophelia Lovibond’s Patty) who seems hip with the timss. She’s also barely making ends meet, and in Timmy’s imagination, he runs a business that can pay her ten times what she’s making now, assuming his larger than life partner - a polar bear who escaped from captivity - doesn’t get their operations tore down.
The polar bear - named Total - entered Timmy’s life following his father walking out on his family. Total was forced to relocate following the ice caps in Antarctica melting, a sly dig at detractors who think Global Warming is a myth. Good on you Disney. We often see the bear following Timmy around on missions, destroying just about everything in his path. You see, Timmy imagines that he’s a private eye for hire, whose biggest case as of now is locating a schoolmates backpack, but he’s also weary of local law enforcement and the nearby ice-cream men who may or may not be Russian spies. Now Timmy is probably too young to have seen “Fletch” or comprehend the layers to “Sherlock Holmes” but this little stud has the part down pat, and Fegly never lets his deadpan delivery subside, making for a hilarious performance.
Additionally, Timmy isn’t interested in learning real facts, and is a thorn in the side of Wallace Shawn’s crotchety teacher Mr. Crocus, an old termite that probably should have hung up his career years ago. And then he’s got a select squad of pals who help on assignment from time to time, there’s the always cheerful Molly Moskins (Chloe Coleman - how fitting a name) and Rollo Tookus (Kai).
Eventually, Timmy gets thrusted into real and imaginary scenarios (his mom’s segway - which she won at church - goes missing, the most valuable thing his family owns). Then again, as is the case with all savvy detective sagas, what matters isn’t the details of the crime, but the dangers that must be overcome to bring about justice. Timmy is all integrity, and even when girls want to swoon over the private eye, he insists things remain professional, despite him making all the problems for himself. Give props to McCarthy and Pastis who do their due diligence in offering unique visualizations into the mind of the young sleuth trying to understand his place in the world. I mean who hasn’t imagined detention as spending jail time with a convicted murderer reading “Eat, Prey, Love?”
“Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made” is now streaming on Disney+