TIMMY FAILURE: MISTAKES WERE MADE is coming to Disney+ on Friday, February 7th. What is TIMMY FAILURE? Why should you watch? This Disney+ original film is a heartwarming, quirky tale set in Portland, Oregon, and we sat down with the cast to find out more about its characters and message.
Timmy Failure Synopsis
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Tom McCarthy (SPOTLIGHT Academy Award winner), TIMMY FAILURE is based on the best-selling book series of the same name by Stephen Pastis. Timmy Failure is an 11-year-old boy with a big imagination. He and Total, his 1,500-pound polar bear partner, operate Total Failure, Inc., a Portland detective agency.
Clueless but confident Timmy (Winslow Fegley) is an oddball at school who must navigate the world of adults around him in his quest to become the best detective in the world. Timmy attempts to solve cases like a stolen backpack, or a class pet that died under odd circumstances. Timmy’s imagination inflates these mysteries in grand fashion.
The all-star cast includes Timmy’s overburdened mother (Ophelia Lovibond), her well-meaning boyfriend (Kyle Bornheimer), Timmy’s teacher/nemesis (Wallace Shawn) and his guidance counselor (Craig Robinson). Timmy also shares adventures with school friends and enemies, including bumbling Rollo (Kei), outspoken Molly (Chloe Coleman) and the girl Timmy thinks is an evil secret agent, Corrina Corrina (Ai-Chan Carrier).
On January 31st we had the opportunity to speak with the cast about TIMMY FAILURE in a series of intimate roundtables, first with the children, then the adults. Kids at press junkets behave very differently from grown-ups. The kids are just themselves. They talked and laughed with each other like they were just sitting around a lunchroom table, taking a break. But we wanted to know – is Total, the polar bear, real?
Winslow Fegley: I think that’s kind of the mysterious Portland vibe. I think he is an imaginary friend to Timmy because of his absent father. Timmy even calls Total “Papa Bear” in the film. But while we were shooting there was this guy in a big bear suit. He really did a great job, he mastered the mannerisms and everything and made it a lot easier for me to work off of. As for my character inspiration, my dad had me watch DOUBLE INDEMNITY, Humphry Bogart, Steve Martin in DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID.
This explains the sleuthy feel to the film. Timmy is up to his eyeballs in mystery, taking small things like a stolen backpack and inflating them to the level of serious spy stuff. Therefore, one of the kids he doesn’t get along with in school, Corrina Corrina, Timmy’s imagination pegs as an evil Russian secret agent. At this, Ai-Chan (Corrina Corrina) chimed in. “We don’t know if she’s really evil or if she’s just a sweet innocent kid. But I think she’s a little bit evil” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Most kids like to fit in, but not Molly. Molly embodies the message of the film – it’s ok to be unique – there is no normal.
Chloe Coleman: I read about my character Molly, and what I like is that she’s not like everybody else. She likes to speak up for what she wants. She’s an activist and a feminist.
Some kids stand out, but some like to go with the flow. Rollo is Timmy’s sidekick, following his lead or his direction, even if it means bodily harm.
Kei: My favorite scene was the bank scene where I run into the door. Rollo has a lot of regret about why he listens to Timmy, and that’s how I’d react in my scenes!
The grown-ups that populate Timmy’s world all play a part in the story. Whether it’s Timmy’s mom, her new boyfriend or Timmy’s teacher, all help Timmy learn and grow. We were lucky enough to speak with all three actors behind these characters, Ophelia Lovibond, Kyle Bornheimer and Wallace Shawn. Wallace (you may know him best as Vizzini from THE PRINCESS BRIDE – “Inconceivable!”) walked in with 2 giant gym bags weighing down both his shoulders, and he is not a big guy. Naturally we were curious what was inside!
Wallace Shawn: Oh that’s just a legacy of my Jewish heritage. I always seem to be carrying a lot of stuff in case one has to leave suddenly.
As we all laughed, I noticed he seemed genuinely curious about each of us, and looked every one of us in the eye. It wasn’t a calculating look, rather a guileless curiosity. I took to him immediately.
Ophelia Lovibond plays Timmy’s mother, Patty. You may recognize her from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY as The Collector’s helper Carina. She has really embraced the mother-son relationship on display in TIMMY FAILURE.
Ophelia Lovibond: Patty is never condescending. She and Timmy are teammates doing it together. She tries to protect him enough but is also honest with him. It’s a lovely relationship, not slapstick in any way. Our character scenes are the heart of the film.
In contrast, Kyle Bornheimer plays Patty’s well-meaning boyfriend, which adds a lot of comedy to the film.
Kyle Bornheimer: My part is quite different than what it was in the books. We landed on making Crispin the innocent sweet goofball that’s always misfiring. He’s learning just as much as Timmy throughout the story.
Why Should You Watch Timmy Failure?
Ophelia hopes that everyone watching TIMMY FAILURE: MISTAKES WERE MADE learns that ‘there is no normal’, and that’s ok.
Ophelia Lovibond: think it’s a beautiful message encouraging you to embrace who you are. I think it takes courage to think ‘I like who I am’.
It’s a message and a problem most of us can relate with. Even the actors themselves struggled with this throughout their lives. Wallace shared a story from his childhood, in which he was at summer camp for the first time by himself.
Wallace Shawn: It’s much harder as a child to be different from other kids. The counselor brought in the other kids to mock my collection of books that I brought. And then he very seriously took me aside and said basically that I was not normal. Books were ok but it was more important to be a ‘real boy’. I felt quite defenseless against what seemed to be the opinion of a whole bunch of people. Consciously I had to think ‘do I really want to be the way I am?’ One thing I love about the movie is that you really see Timmy wrestling with those questions.
Above all, TIMMY FAILURE is a family film. This is something you can watch with your family and then have a great discussion about the life lessons after the fact.
Kyle Bornheimer: I think if you’re a parent you will notice things about yourself and your own kids. Whether you are a parent or not you will enjoy this film.
TIMMY FAILURE: MISTAKES WERE MADE debuts exclusively on Disney+ on Friday, February 7th, along with several Disney+ exclusive TV shows. Happy Streaming! Follow along with us on Twitter and Instagram for more great Disney+ news.