What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that well-paced laughs and just-scary-enough driving thrills enhance this sweet, wholesome story. Other than the fact that parents will want to point out that seatbelts weren't widely used in 1969, this film offers fun for the whole family. Young ones will identify with the spunky little VW and enjoy the racecar action. Older kids will enjoy the lively story and jokes about '60s hippie culture.
What's the story?
Meet Herbie, a VW Beetle with a mind of its own -- one that kids will be instantly taken with. In this, the first -- and best-- of the four movies starring the loveable car, Herbie is rescued from his mean owner Mr. Tomlinson (Peter Thorndyke) by nice-guy Jim (Dean Jones). Herbie and Jim become fast friends – and fast race car drivers as they win race after race. When Tomlinson decides he'll stop at nothing to get Herbie back, Jim, the woman he's sweet on (Michele Lee), their friend Tennessee (Buddy Hackett), and the loveable VW bug are in for one wild ride.
Is it any good?
While 1968's THE LOVE BUG shows its age, it still provides lots of harmless Disney entertainment. This movie seems to exist in a different Disney universe from that of the studio's earlier features: one populated by hippies, mock-mystic mechanics, and pants-wearing career women. The differences are merely superficial, however, a sign of the changing times; Disney wholesomeness is still very much intact. In fact, other than a noticeable lack of seatbelts, there's nothing here to alarm parents.
Peter Thorndyke makes a fine villain: oily, bullying, and deliciously underhanded. Buddy Hackett's Tennessee, on the other hand isn't nearly as much fun, and audiences will likely wince at the racial stereotyping presented by Mr. Wu. Children, of course, are meant to identify with Herbie, the Love Bug himself.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the importance of being safe even when they are goofing around, as Herbie did. Families may also want to discuss the racial stereotyping depicted in Mr. Wu.