Very few mistakes were made in humorous, heartfelt Timmy Failure

Anneliese Esparza, A&E Editor

With an eccentric yet likeable young protagonist, valuable messages and lots of humor, Disney+’s newly released Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is a solid film that demonstrates that Disney is putting quality original content on its streaming platform.

The story is centered around 5th grader Timmy Failure (Winslow Fegley), a solitary boy with an overactive imagination who believes that his detective agency, Total Failure Inc., is critical in protecting Portland from crime and sinister plots. He doesn’t man the agency alone: his trusted partner is Total, an imaginary 1,500 pound polar bear.

There’s no denying that Timmy is an oddity; he says “affirmative” and “negative” instead of “yes” and “no”; he’s convinced that bushy-bearded hipsters are Russian spies; he hates to show emotion and insists on keeping all his interactions professional.

While the film starts out by showing Timmy trying to crack cases, the focus shifts from solving mysteries to unraveling Timmy’s unique and often difficult persona. He’s a loner, he neglects to do his homework, he misbehaves in class and he constantly disobeys his mother, Patty (Ophelia Lovibond), who is raising Timmy alone after her husband walked out on the family.

Throughout the course of the film, Timmy must learn to reconcile his differences with real life scenarios without sacrificing his individuality: to decide when to fit in and when to stand out. In the hands of director Tom McCarthy, the film is well-paced and has a good balance between action and characterization.

Fegley’s portrayal really brought the complicated character of Timmy to life. With a less talented performance, Timmy would have come across as improbable and just plain annoying. However, Fegley is able to preserve the oddball nature of the character while also showing glimpses of his vulnerability and hidden struggles.

Lovibond is believable in her role as Patty, who deeply loves and wants the best for her son but also gets extremely frustrated by his challenging personality.

Craig Robinson performs solidly as Timmy’s sympathetic school counselor Mr. Jenkins, while Wallace Shawn is hilarious in his role as Timmy’s sarcastic teacher and nemesis Mr. Crocus.

Timmy Failure’s setting in the eccentric city of Portland made sense given the somewhat quirky, fantastical nature of the film as a whole. Actual footage of Portland and nearby sites Multnomah Falls and Bonneville Dam made the film seem realistic, while the film’s set design and costuming definitely displayed Portland’s weirdness, tattooed and bearded hipsters and all. A mural near Timmy’s house reads, “Long Live the Wildcards, Misfits and Dabblers,” a message that echoes Timmy’s slogan “normal is for normal people.”

The film’s original score, written by Rolfe Kent, is a distinctive and constantly fluctuating composition. When there is a more heartfelt moment on screen, the score is gentle and relaxing. When there is a lot of action in the scene, the score morphs into a detective-style, fast-paced cut. When Timmy’s imagination runs away with him, the score becomes fantastic and crazy. Overall, it does a great job of setting the mood for any given scene.

Timmy Failure is noteworthy for its ability to appeal to viewers of all ages. Lighter moments like elementary school kids driving (and crashing) trucks, polar bears scrounging through dumpsters and the class hamster’s eulogy go hand-in-hand with deeper themes of being yourself, adjusting to change and owning your mistakes.

Wild and whimsical as well as tender and truthful, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is a true pleasure to watch, either by yourself or with your whole family.