Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

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Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made
Timmy Failure Mistakes Were Made Poster.jpeg
Official release poster
Directed byTom McCarthy
Produced by
  • Alexander Dostal
  • Tom McCarthy
  • Jim Whitaker
Screenplay by
Based onTimmy Failure
by Stephan Pastis
Music byRolfe Kent
CinematographyMasanobu Takayanagi
Edited byTom McArdle
Distributed byDisney+
Release date
  • January 25, 2020 (2020-01-25) (Sundance)
  • February 7, 2020 (2020-02-07) (Disney+)
Running time
99 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$42 million[3]

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is a 2020 American comedy film based on the book series of the same name by Stephan Pastis that debuted on Disney+. The film is directed by Tom McCarthy, produced by Alexander Dostal, McCarthy and Jim Whitaker from a screenplay written by McCarthy and Pastis and stars Winslow Fegley, Ophelia Lovibond, Craig Robinson and Wallace Shawn.


In a world where imaginary friends co-exist with humans, Timmy Failure is an 11-year-old living in Portland, Oregon with his single mother Patty. Timmy runs Total Failure Inc., his own personal detective agency, and "solves" cases. Much of Timmy's adventures revolve around himself traveling with his polar bear partner Total (implied to be the result of his father walking out on him and his mother) across the city looking for cases and outwitting the "Russians" (actually just bearded hipsters). Among his small social group are his best friend, Charles "Rollo" Tookus, a former member of Total Failure Inc., who quit after a mission gone awry, and Molly Moskins, a perky and optimistic girl who has a crush on Timmy. Timmy considers his arch-enemy a girl named Corrina Corrina, who is actually very friendly to him and appears oblivious to his animosity towards her, though it is implied to be due to him having repressed feelings for her.

While retrieving a dead hamster from a fellow classmate, Timmy's Failure-Mobile, a Segway that actually belongs to his mother, is stolen right out from under him. He cancels his other cases and recruits Rollo, who believes that the death of their class hamster and the stolen Segway are linked back to the Russians. At the library, Timmy learns from Molly that Corrina Corrina is part Russian and believes that she is behind the theft to dismantle his agency. Because of his unusual outbursts and behavior in class, Timmy begins seeing the school counselor, Mr. Jenkins, whom Timmy begins to slowly but surely trust with his mission. He also learns that Patty is dating a meter maid named Crispin who is friendly and aloof, but whom Timmy dislikes as he "[doesn't] collaborate with law enforcement."

Timmy learns that Corrina Corrina's father owns a bank and believes that his Segway is there. He and Rollo try to sneak in but get kicked out by security. Mr. Jenkins manages to get Timmy to do his homework as part of a "mission", but while doing so learns from Patty that they have to move to an apartment, which upsets Timmy as he has a "heavy caseload." While on a field trip to Bonneville Dam, Timmy jumps to the false conclusion that Corrina Corrina plans to shut off the power to all of Portland. Unaware that she is still with the group, Timmy rushes through the dam to find her while being chased by his teacher, Mr. Crocus. They end up outside the dam just as the operators open the flood gates. Timmy tries protecting Crocus from the flood, as he considers him an intellectual equal, but it turns out that they are high above the flood gates. Timmy receives a three-day suspension for his behavior, and Crocus quits his job and is replaced while Patty angrily tells Timmy that she was fired because she had to stay home with Timmy, and shuts down Total Failure Inc. Saddened over his fate of having to be "normal" and moving to an apartment, Timmy lets Total go at the zoo.

Mr. Jenkins talks to Timmy and reminds him that he must learn from his mistakes so that he can be a better person. Invigorated after discovering a "Russian bug" in his cookie, Timmy recruits Crispin to liberate Total from the zoo. As they are driving back, they spot a purse snatcher and Crispin gives chase, catching him. Timmy considers aiding him but decides to simply call the police. After a passerby asks him and Total to move, acknowledging his presence, and Timmy subsequently accidentally backing up his truck into a pole, Patty comes to see Timmy in the hospital and he apologizes for his behavior. Patty tells Timmy that she wants him to re-open his detective agency. Soon after, Crispin shows Timmy that the Segway was impounded at the police station this whole time for being parked in a no-parking zone, convincing Timmy that the police are working with the Russians. Timmy comes out to give a speech at an animal fundraiser set up by Molly and excites the crowd with his speech on allowing polar bears into the school. As Timmy wishes that Crocus could be there, he suddenly believes that Crocus was kidnapped by Corrina Corrina and the Russians and sets off with Total to "rescue" him.


  • Winslow Fegley as Timmy Failure, the main protagonist
    • Troy Ames as 4-year-old Timmy
  • Ophelia Lovibond as Patty Failure, Timmy’s single mother
  • Wallace Shawn as Frederick Crocus, Timmy's teacher and the main antagonist
  • Craig Robinson as Mr. Jenkins, a school counselor who works with Timmy
  • Kyle Bornheimer as Crispin Flavius, Patty's boyfriend
  • Ai-Chan Carrier as Corrina Corrina, Timmy's rival, who is actually genuinely friendly to him
  • Chloe Coleman as Molly Moskins, a girl who has a major crush on Timmy
  • Kei as Charles "Rollo" Tookus, Timmy's best friend
  • Caitlin Weierhauser as Flo, the school librarian
  • Ruby Matenko as Maxine Shellenberger, a classmate of Timmy's
  • A. Brian Daniels as Portland police officer
  • Dennis Lynch as Dan The Dam Man


On April 25, 2017, it was reported that director Tom McCarthy was in talks to direct an adaptation of Stephan Pastis' novel Timmy Failure for Walt Disney Pictures. McCarthy was expected to write the film's screenplay with Pastis and Jim Whitaker was set to serve as a producer.[4][5] On February 8, 2018, it was announced that the film would premiere on Disney+, Disney's streaming service that launched in late 2019.[6]

On June 9, 2017, it was initially reported that the film would go through pre-production from June 26 through September 15, 2017 with sixty days of filming following in Louisiana. The film was set with a budget of $42 million, with $32 million of that being spent in-state. That included an estimated $10 million on Louisiana payroll.[7]

Filming took place during the week of June 27, 2018, in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, where a set was constructed made to look like a border crossing between the United States and Canada.[8] Production continued in Surrey on July 5, 2018, at the local Cloverdale Fairgrounds, where a scene was shot where a vehicle travels through a house.[9] Principal photography and additional filming took place from July 27 through September 8, 2018 in Portland, Oregon.[10]

On July 31, 2018, it was announced that Ophelia Lovibond had been cast in the role of Patty Failure.[11] On January 24, 2019, it was reported that Craig Robinson had been cast in the film.[12]


Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2020,[13] and was released on Disney+ on February 7, 2020.[14]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 84%, with an average rating of 7.36/10, based on 31 reviews. The website's critical consensus says, "A fun, fast paced film for all, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made celebrates the power of imagination with a delightful sense of humor and just the right amount of bears".[15] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted rating of 60 out of 100 based on 9 reviews, indicating "mixed or average".[16]

John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter described Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made as "the best of [Disney+]'s original programs by a wide margin."[17]

Common Sense Media rated the movie 4 out of 5 stars, stating : "Parents need to know that the main character of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is a misfit whose refusal -- or inability -- to be a "normal" kid will resonate deeply with some kids. Still, the film -- based on the popular books -- keeps the tone largely upbeat and humorous, thanks to the boy's outlandish plots, his unique imaginary friend (a bear), and fantasies (like the gloomy "Our Crusher of Souls" middle school), as well as an eccentric cast of Portland characters and settings, sweet friends, and loving adults. Timmy's detective agency, "Total Failure, Inc." and his wild schemes for cracking cases are inventive. Those closest to him consider him positively unique, but one angry teacher and others find him an exasperating nuisance. To get out of trouble, Timmy engages in some white lies to his mother and plenty of delusional thinking (like that he'll open an agency downtown instead of going to middle school). Mild violence is mostly imagined and language is limited to "crap," "loser," "dumb" and "weirdo"".[18]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
Visual Effects Society Awards April 6, 2021 Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Rich McBride, Leslie Lerman, Nicolas Chevallier, Anders Beer, Tony Lazarowich Nominated [19]
Outstanding Animated Character in an Episode or Real-Time Project Maxime Masse, Hennadii Prykhodko, Luc Girard, Sophie Burie (for Mistakes Were Made; Total Nominated


  1. ^ Lodge, Guy (January 26, 2020). "'Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made': Film Review". Variety. Retrieved January 27, 2020.
  2. ^ Sundance Film Festival (December 4, 2019). "Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made". Retrieved December 23, 2019.
  3. ^ "Remember Family Films? Disney Plus Is Making 'Em Like They Used To". The New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2019.
  4. ^ Kroll, Justin (April 25, 2017). "'Spotlight' Director Tom McCarthy Eyeing 'Timmy Failure' at Disney". Variety. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  5. ^ Kit, Borys (April 25, 2017). "Tom McCarthy in Talks to Direct 'Timmy Failure' for Disney (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  6. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (February 8, 2018). "Disney Unveils Inaugural Streaming Service Launch Slate To Town; No R-Rated Fare". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  7. ^ Scott, Mike (June 9, 2017). "Disney's 'Timmy Failure' movie planning to shoot in Louisiana". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  8. ^ Judd, Amy (June 27, 2018). "Mysterious new 'border crossing' pops up in Surrey". Global News. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  9. ^ Anderson, Samantha (July 5, 2018). "Disney's live-action Timmy Failure adaptation filming at Cloverdale Fairgrounds - Surrey Now-Leader". The Surrey Now News-Leader. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  10. ^ Turnquist, Kristi (June 26, 2018). "Disney movie shooting in Portland to hold casting call for extras". OregonLive.com. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
  11. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (July 31, 2018). "Ophelia Lovibond Joins Director Tom McCarthy's 'Timmy Failure' Film At Disney". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  12. ^ Bart, Peter (January 24, 2019). "Peter Bart: Streamer Mania Means Greenlights Galore, But Slate Strategies Still Baffle Creatives". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 24, 2019.
  13. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (December 4, 2019). "Sundance Unveils Female-Powered Lineup Featuring Taylor Swift, Gloria Steinem, Abortion Road Trip Drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 4, 2019.
  14. ^ @disneyplus (January 7, 2020). "Small detective. Big imagination. Watch the new trailer for Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, an Original Movie, streaming Feb. 7 on #DisneyPlus" (Tweet). Retrieved January 7, 2020 – via Twitter.
  15. ^ "Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  16. ^ "Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  17. ^ DeFore, John (January 25, 2020). "'Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made': Film Review | Sundance 2020". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 26, 2020.
  18. ^ "Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made - Movie Review". www.commonsensemedia.org. 2020-02-07. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  19. ^ Pederson, Erik (March 2, 2021). "VES Awards Nominations: 'Tenet', 'Midnight Sky', 'Extraction', 'Soul' & 'Mandalorian' Among Titles In Visual Effects Hunt". Deadline. Retrieved March 2, 2021.

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