Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made may look a bit odd on the surface, a more in-depth look at Tom McCarthy’s adaptation of the Stephan Pastis’ books of the same name reveals something that is heartwarming while also being quirky and whimsy. It centers on the titular 11-year-old Timmy Failure (Winslow Fegley), who owns his own detective agency, Total Failure Inc. with his partner, a 1,500-pound, polar bear, and his sidekick Rollo Tookus (Kei), in Portland, Oregon. Though the idea of a 1,500-pound polar bear roaming the sidewalks with a kid sounds strange, it plays a central role in the film’s themes of embracing one’s identity no matter what other people have to say.
ThatsItLA was invited to join their fellow bloggers at a press event for the film, which can be seen exclusively on Disney+, Walt Disney Studio’s streaming service. There, the young cast and their adult counterparts talked about the film and how its themes can connect with its audience.
Kei, who plays Rollo Tookus describes his character as a good kid who doesn’t want to get into trouble. However, he says his character always finds himself getting into it because of his friend Timmy Failure. But he believes that Timmy is interesting because he the complete opposite of Rollo.
Fegley says, “Timmy is kind of this 11-year-old kid who has this polar bear imaginary friend. He adds that “it is all about his adventures, both his personal and the detective agency that he owns.” As you can imagine, “it’s really cool to see how all these characters fit in.”
Chloe Coleman plays the fearless and outspoken Molly Moskins, who tries to make sure people are happy. She describes her character as an activist and feminist who supports good causes. “When it comes to Timmy wanting something, she is there for him,” she said. “Or if anybody wants something. She likes that about people, especially when they are not like anybody else. She is not like anybody else.”
Ai-chan Carrier, who originally auditioned to play Molly Moskins, plays Corrina Corrina, says she plays quite an interesting character. “She’s – well in Timmy’s imagination, she’s this evil Russian secret agent, and we don’t actually know if she’s really evil or if she’s just a sweet innocent kid,” she said.
The four young actors went through various auditions, some getting the call, some getting a second audition. “When I first got one of the first or second auditions, I started reading the books with my dad, and I felt like this story was so unique and that Stephan did a great job writing it – all the books, everything,” Fegely said. “It was really great being able to audition.”
The same can be said for Kei, who has this family tradition of getting his family together to read the script, which they thought was funny. He admits that he never read the books. But he found that it was similar to his favorite book series, Diary Of A Wimpy Kid.
But it wasn’t all work and no play. The kids got to know each other pretty well during the course of the production. Kei described the camaraderie as 24/7 playdates. And because the cast and crew pretty much hung out at the same apartment complex, Fegley said that they would hang out at the pool. Carrier chimed in saying that they would play on Mario Kart on Kei’s Nintendo Switch, while Coleman recalled how they could not Fegley during their hide-and-go-seek games in-between takes.
After the young cast was done with the interviews, we had a chance to talk to the adults. In the film, Ophelia Lovibond plays Patty Failure, Timmy’s single mother; Wallace Shawn plays Mr. Crocus, Timmy’s elementary teacher, and nemesis, and Kyle Bornheimer plays Crispin, Patty’s love interest.
Lovibond hopes audiences take away that they shouldn’t be normal when they are told to be. “When someone tells you to be normal, that doesn’t mean anything,” she said. “What is normal? Normal based on what? What are you measuring that against? If someone says that, you should completely ignore it. I think it is a beautiful measure. It encourages you to embrace who you are and your imagination and where that takes you.” She says if people are mean to you in that way, you should ignore them. But she recognizes how it may not always be easy to be who you are when you are pressured to being something else by friends or adults.
“Of course, you look to either side when you wonder if you should be more like that or you infer to what’s around you that you ought to be a different way,” Lovibond said. “But I think it takes courage to say, ‘no, I like who I am.’ I think its wonderful to encourage a child to do that. The earlier – the sooner you tell them. Hopefully, the less difficult it will be.”
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made will stream exclusively on Disney+ starting February 7, 2020.