Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Movie review by
Common Sense Me..., Common Sense Media
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Movie Poster Image
A fantastical car story custom-made for kids.
  • G
  • 1968
  • 144 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 15 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Interesting footage of early auto races "British Grand Prix" showing cars in the very early 1900s. An array of inventions created by Mr. Potts which predate their actual development, early versions of a vacuum cleaner, hydroplane, and many more.

Positive Messages

There’s beauty and worth to be found in even the most unconventional people. The most valuable part of life is having people to love and care for and being loved and cared for in return. Even failure can be a positive experience if you learn from your mistakes –- “from the ashes of disaster come the roses of success.” Themes include curiosity and perseverance. And finally, dreams can come true, but you have to be practical, too.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mr. Potts is a hero to his children. He’s more creative than successful, more loving than responsible, and fills their simple needs in unorthodox ways. In spite of the unusual life they lead (home-schooled, an eccentric father, a wacky grandfather, a lack of material possessions) Jemima and Jeremy are happy, unselfish, bright, and loyal. The villains who live in a land called “Vulgaria” are essentially bumbling Germanic stereotypes.

Violence & Scariness

All of the action is exaggerated and clownish; no one is injured or killed. A couple of minor car crashes occur in a sequence showing very early 1900s auto racing. One car catches on fire. An experiment with a rocket ends when it sparks and catches fire, briefly putting its inventor at risk. In a fantasy story-within-a-story, the Potts and friends end up in danger in a fictional kingdom. There are numerous pratfalls, pirate attacks, canon fire, and dynamite, an evil “child catcher,” two farcical villains who try lots of cartoon measures to capture the Potts family, and a lengthy comic battle between soldiers and our heroes, who fight alongside an army of children.

Sexy Stuff

One romantic kiss as a man asks his sweetheart to marry him.

Language

One use of “ass.”

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while there are scenes in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in which the Potts family members and others are in jeopardy, there are fantasy sequences filled with comic pratfalls, exaggerated action (Grandpa, in his outhouse-like hideaway carried away by a zeppelin; a baroness shot into the sky and retrieved by canon shots letting the air out of her billowing skirt), and arch clown-like villains with twirling mustaches, and one even wielding a hook. Only the very youngest or most apprehensive children may find the images scary; other kids will understand the intent and likely find it funny. There is an entire kingdom made up of buffoonish Germanic stereotypes who are more bumbling than menacing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 4 and 6 year old Written byjcmccain November 7, 2009

6 yo still scared

My 4 and 6 year olds were scared by the kid catcher and broke down in tears. We couldn't finish the movie! My kids are sensitive and don't watch much... Continue reading
Parent of a 3 and 4 year old Written bymom of 2 boys August 25, 2009

The "Child Catcher" is WAY to scary for 3-5 year olds

I vaguely remembered this from my childhood and rented it to watch with my 3 and 5 year olds. It was HORRIBLE. The first half of the movie was fine, but the se... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMarioMii November 15, 2010

Preschoolers can watch this movie

My mom said that this movie was definitely for preschoolers so I rate this iffy for a 2-year old because of some mild violence.
Teen, 15 years old Written byDominicboo1 April 22, 2011

Truly Scrumptious!

The Child Catcher is mildly frightenig , but other than him this is a wonderful family film for all! It' s music is very catchy, and charcters are very lov... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based loosely on the novel by Ian Fleming of James Bond fame, the fantasy-musical CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG gets rolling when Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke), an eccentric inventor with barely enough money to keep a roof over his two kids' heads, buys a beat-up motorcar for them and transforms it into a dream machine that can fly, float, and, it seems, even think for itself. A day at the seashore with the car called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang spawns an elaborate adventure in Vulgaria as the Potts clan and candy heiress Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes) try to rescue Grandpa Potts from his kidnappers, Baron and Baroness Bomburst. On the adventure, an exceedingly creepy child catcher entices the young Jeremy and Jemima Potts with lollipops, Caractacus and Truly pose as life-size dolls at the Baron's birthday party, and the country's imprisoned children stage a revolt.

Is it any good?

It's not a perfectly cut film, but it's the stuff of children's wildest fantasies. After writing the music for the extraordinary Mary Poppins, brothers Richard and Robert Sherman wrote the music for this film (their first non-Disney musical). Roald Dahl, author of many children's stories including James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, was co-writer of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which blends fantasy and adventure in a whimsical movie musical that has been captivating children for decades.

Although the songs aren't quite as memorable as in Mary Poppins, the story may leave even more of an impression on kids than the Disney hallmark and excite them to a greater degree. Young viewers may drift to sleep after the climax, as the love story between Caractacus and Truly concludes, but they'll have a feast of visions to dream of for years to come. For DVD extras that really add value, get the Special Edition, which was made with Van Dyke's involvement and includes interviews, games, and many other fun features.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about which part of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang "really happened" and which was make believe.

  • What would you do with a car like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? What kinds of things would you like to invent?

  • For older kids: Why were the people of Vulgaria depicted as fools? How do real-life political events affect movies? Can you imagine looking back at today's movies and recognizing how politics influenced them?

  • How do the characters in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang demonstrate curiosity and perseverance? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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For kids who love cars

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