I think Paul Scheer of the podcast How Did This Get Made? summed up Gooby best: “Finally, a kids movie that proves the age old adage that a kid’s best friend is a 7 foot tall scary ass looking Scottish bear that makes other kids piss their pants.” Because that’s what happens in Gooby. And it is totally insane.
Gooby is about a neglected 11-year-old boy hilariously named Willy. Willy’s parents, Jack (David James Elliott) and Elize (Ingrid Kavelaars) hate him. I’m not kidding. Though he clearly has profound mental health issues, they treat him like total shit by ignoring him so completely that Willy pretty much just lives his life until one of his parents tells him that something’s changing, like they’re moving out of Willy’s childhood home . . . in like 2 weeks. Willy is constantly on edge, and for good reason. Some choice parenting moments: Willy’s parents hire a nanny, which he has never had before. They tell him they’re hiring a nanny by introducing him to her, because fuck what the kid thinks. Willy sits at the kitchen counter and eats cereal as the nanny looks on and packs his lunch. She puts two cookies on the kitchen counter behind her, near an open window, and she turns around and sees that they’re gone (hint, it was Gooby). She immediately accuses Willy of stealing the cookies, even though he was sitting right in front of her the whole time. It happens again and she accuses Willy again, getting the attention of Willy’s mom. Willy tells her he didn’t do anything and his mom doesn’t believe him. He even says, “Every time I tell you the truth you say I’m lying.” That issue is never addressed. Another good moment: Willy sits at the table with his parents, eating Chinese takeout. Gooby starts making noise upstairs, so to distract his parents Willy pretends he’s about to be sick. Instead of taking him to the bathroom, or coming to his side, both parents immediately move their food (not Willy’s food, just their’s) away from him and look at him with disgust. Nothing like favoring Chinese takeout over your child’s health.
So what made me say that Willy has profound mental health issues is that he has frequent visual hallucinations (Gooby is not one of them). He believes the monsters he draws are real and he sees them come to life right in front of him, 100% believing that they are there and are going to kill him. His parents seem to know this (his mom references a therapist he’s seen) buuuut don’t seem all that concerned. So for some reason, when Willy and his parents leave their house for the last time, Willy’s childhood stuffed bear, Gooby, is left behind, even though we clearly saw Elize check all the rooms in the house before they go. And then, again for some reason, we see Gooby light up and glow, and that’s it. Did Willy make a wish for Gooby to come to life? Was there a magical lightning storm? We’ll never know.
So one day while Willy is in his backyard, he discovers a full-size, talking Gooby and much to Willy’s surprise, he is not a hallucination. Willy takes him in and Gooby quickly becomes his only friend. They share moments not unlike a similar scene in 9 1/2 Weeks involving sitting in front of the open fridge eating food together, Gooby eating disgusting raw hot dogs out of tupperware. Also involved in this story (sort of) is Willy’s evil teacher, Mr. Nerdlinger (Eugene Levy), a failed children’s book writer who is obsessed with becoming famous. He sees Gooby (yeah, other people can see him) and it becomes his goal to get a picture of Gooby that will make him famous. Because anyone would look at a picture of Gooby and think it’s a real creature and not just a man in a weird bear suit.
Gooby basically becomes the dad Willy never had, which is sad considering his dad is still around and Gooby is a giant magical teddy bear. He helps Willy get in with the cool kids by taking them all to an R-rated movie on Halloween, pretending to be, you guessed it, a man in a weird bear suit. Eventually Gooby realizes he has a purpose and that is to get Willy and his dad back together. He does this by taking Willy to the abandoned apartment building where his dad grew up, where Willy promptly falls through the floor and is hanging on for life (or more likely just for his legs to not get broken). Gooby decides to not use his giant size to help Willy up, but instead calls Willy’s suddenly worried parents. By the time Willy’s dad shows up an undetermined amount of time later, Willy is still hanging in the hole in the floor. What the hell? His dad finally saves him and meets Gooby and is not at all concerned about Gooby’s existence. Willy’s parents accept Gooby as part of the family . . . until Gooby hones in on a little girl at Home Depot and asks Willy to to give him (Gooby) to her. Somehow, Gooby turns back into a teddy bear and Willy gives him to the little girl, essentially giving her a grown man in a suit to follow her around indefinitely. Thanks, Willy!
You just can’t help but wonder the thought process behind Gooby. It’s confusing enough to make me think a lot was cut out of it but I don’t think a director’s cut would suddenly make it not insanely terrible. Gooby is terrifying and also tragic considering he was basically brought to life because a child was so isolated that he went insane. GREAT FAMILY FILM!!!
I have been wanting to watch this since it came out. The first time I saw the trailer for this I had no idea what I watched. It’s interesting to me how stuff like this is made because how could you look at Gooby and think he wouldn’t scare the fuck out of children? Also he acts like a grown adult the whole time.
The best part about this movie though was how much the parents hated their kid. It was kind of like What Dreams May Come. Any kind of situation involving the parents in this film always ends with them just looking annoyed that Willy was their kid. At one point the kid pretends to be sick and the parents’ only reaction is to not let him throw up on their food.
Gooby also has a problem with scenes just ending. There are so many situations where you aren’t quite sure how a scene is going to end and guess what, you never do! For instance, the scene where the Willy pretends to be sick. What’s happening is that Gooby is up in Willy’s room trying to be quiet so his parents don’t know he exists. At this time Willy and his parents are sitting around the table eating take out Chinese food. As dinner progresses you start hearing Gooby up in Willy’s room. He keeps knocking shit over and as the dinner moves along he keeps getting louder. As Gooby makes noise Willy pretends to be sick, making noises so his parents’ stop thinking about the noise upstairs . . .then the scene ends. I guess the parents don’t want to see why it sounds like a 300 lb man is stomping around upstairs?