The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes



1960s Disney comedy has lesson on fame's price.
  • Review Date: December 4, 2008
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1969
  • Running Time: 91 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Dexter suddenly becomes famous and has every luxury at his fingertips. Girls fawn over him, scientists and world leaders go gaga, he is the object of a ticker-tape parade. How he deals with his fame is the lesson of this story. He comes to the conclusion that "everyone is out for himself," in that world of glamour, and he returns to his humble gang of friends.

Violence & scariness

Some slapstick tussling with incompetent mobsters who chase Dexter's friends in a wacky car chase and try to abduct him by gunpoint.

Sexy stuff

Dexter is shown kissing two girls on TV, while his girlfriend watches from afar. He later apologizes.


Dean Higgins calls people "stupid" and bad-mouths Dexter and his friends. Dexter's girlfriend calls him a "dirty rat."


Though Dexter is given everything when he becomes famous, he decides to come back to his old friends and humble ways. He does drive a pretty tricked-out dune-buggy, though.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that groovy duds and gigantic computers are sure to amuse modern young viewers. Some of the scenes of Dexter's abduction feature thugs with guns. The thugs even shoot at the truck Dexter's friends are driving, but it is portrayed in a slapstick, cartoonish way.

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What's the story?

This wacky Disney comedy features a young Kurt Russell as a kid named Dexter whose fate becomes intertwined with a computer's, making him suddenly the smartest man on Earth. When Medfield College finds that it can't afford one of the newfangled computers that the larger universities possesses, they turn to a local executive to donate the funds to buy one. Little do the regents know that the executive, A.J. Arno (Cesar Romero), is running an illegal gambling ring. Enter goofy, but darling Dexter (Kurt Russell) who gets a shock from a computer he is trying to procure parts from, leaving him with analog dreams and the ability to compute anything possible.

Is it any good?


What is charming about this movie is the innocence mixed with freedom that the late-1960s Disney movies portray. On one hand, Dexter is a kid with a dune buggy who attends college with his pals. On the other hand, a mobster runs a gambling ring and abducts Dexter, who is saved by his friends in the end. There is no doubt that Dexter will be safe and sound -- even though we never see his parents or his home. He is free to explore his surroundings, and even become the smartest man in the world, but the viewer never sees his home life, he's not burdened with student loans or difficult family issues.

This light tone is a welcome change to the darker contemporary fare for kids. It might leave parents a little nostalgic for freewheeling times. And make sure to get a load of the massive computer! It really drives home how much technological advancement we've seen in such a short time.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like to be smarter than everyone else. How does fame affect Dexter? Does he begin to behave differently? What would you say to him if you were his friend to bring him back to reality?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 31, 1969
DVD release date:January 14, 2003
Cast:Cesar Romero, Joe Flynn, Kurt Russell
Director:Robert Butler
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:91 minutes
MPAA rating:G

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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