Following its debut at Sundance on January 25, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, Disney’s $42 million film adaptation of Stephan Pastis’s middle grade debut novel, is releasing on the streaming platform Disney+ this Friday, February 7.
Pastis, perhaps best known as the cartoonist behind long-running comic strip Pearls Before Swine, began publishing the seven-book illustrated Timmy Failure series with Candlewick in 2013, releasing the finale in 2018. The books star the eponymous 11-year-old sleuth and his 1,500-pound polar bear business partner Total, with whom he runs Total Failure, Inc., a detective agency that lives up to its name. Other notable characters include Molly Moskins, who smiles a lot and smells like tangerines; Charles “Rollo” Tookus, Timmy’s studious best friend, whom he describes as an idiot; and Corrina Corrina, whom Timmy believes is his enemy, despite her general unawareness of his existence.
Winslow Fegley, who last played preteen Shaun on The Good Doctor, takes on the titular role. Chloe Coleman, who played Skye Carlson on Big Little Lies, stars as Molly. Kei, who was Bazooka Phil on Fresh Off the Boat, is Rollo; and Ai-Chan Carrier, last seen on Training Day, plays Corrina. Veteran actors Craig Robinson and Wallace Shawn also have supporting roles.
The film is directed by Tom McCarthy, who won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Spotlight, was a Best Director nominee for the same film, and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for co-writing Up.
McCarthy and Pastis penned the screenplay in a collaborative effort, in a process Pastis described as “pretty incredible.”
“Tom was holding the Oscar for Best Screenplay and I was holding a book called How to Write a Screenplay. So, yes, our experience level differed,” Pastis deadpanned. “But Tom was patient with me and soon we were writing together almost every day. It was probably the best creative experience of my life. He taught me a lot.”
The project was first announced on April 25, 2017. Filming took place in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, and Portland, Ore., from June to September 2018.
Pastis pronounced the experience of seeing his book adapted for the screen “pretty mind-blowing,” sharing one of his favorite memories from the production: “There were about 200 people on set, all there to capture a truck being driven at 40 mph into a house [that was specifically built for the movie]. And all I could think was, ‘This is all happening because on the first page of the first Timmy book, I wrote that a car is driven into a house.’ I literally could not believe it was happening.”