The Love Bug

Movie review by
Polly M. Robertus, Common Sense Media
The Love Bug Movie Poster Image
'60s comedy has dated stereotypes, drinking.
  • G
  • 1968
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Some Asian stereotyping, as represented by a Chinese character speaking in pidgin fortune-cookie aphorisms and Buddy Hackett's goofy misrepresentation of Tibetan wisdom.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Obvious stereotypes of Asian Americans. The English character is a fussy snob. "Hippies" act spacey and out-of-it. 

Violence & Scariness

The establishing shots at the beginning of the movie show a demolition derby in the midst of numerous crashes. A despondent Herbie is shown hanging precariously on the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge, in an imitation of someone about to commit suicide. Reckless driving in some scenes. 

Sexy Stuff

A man ogles a saleswoman's legs while she holds a suggestive sign. 


Herbie is a Volkswagen Bug. Lead character desires fancier sports cars, buys a Lamborghini. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Thorndyke gets Herbie "drunk" by pouring Irish Coffee into his gas tank; Tennessee later jokes that Herbie is hungover. Thorndyke and Tennessee get drunk on "Irish Coffee." Characters drink sherry, wine, champagne. Cigarette smoking. Some jokes involving hippies who act like they might be high on something; one cop tells another cop who is behaving strangely that he has been "on that Haight-Ashbury beat too long." 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Love Bug is a 1968 comedy about a Volkswagen Bug that seems to come to life when a struggling race car driver takes the wheel. There are some moments of dated humor rooted in stereotyping. For instance, Asian American characters speak in broken English, keep dried squid in the passenger seat, use an abacus for math, and their appearance is greeted with "Chopsticks"-like background music. In one scene, Herbie, in an imitation of suicide, is shown hanging precariously off the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge and must be talked down. The villain gets Herbie "drunk" on the "Irish Coffee" he had been drinking with Herbie's mechanic; the mechanic later makes reference to Herbie being hungover. Some jokes involving hippies who act like they might be high on something; one cop tells another cop who is behaving strangely that he has been "on that Haight-Ashbury beat too long." Cigarette smoking. Reckless driving, although exaggerated and comical. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bynolafamily June 2, 2018

Sexual innuendo and drinking not mentioned in the review.

I was surprised to come across several scenes that included drinking alcohol; one character becomes drunk and then Herbie also suffers a "hangover." T... Continue reading
Parent of a 4 and 6-year-old Written byCD4 July 10, 2020

Not for younger children

Not a good family movie if you have younger children.
Teen, 13 years old Written byMoviegirl700 October 31, 2018

Common Sense-your review is so wrong!!

This movie sucked! And Common Sense did not catch anything that happens!
Sex: Kissing, a couple is in the car smooching away (turned it off at that, with young... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old December 10, 2017

This movie was OK

Very corny, it's kind of violet for a movie meant for young of kids. Plus, there's kissing.

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 lovable 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 lovable 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 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. 

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. Kids, of course, are meant to identify with Herbie, the Love Bug himself.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about stereotyping. How does the movie resort to stereotyping for the sake of humor? How is such stereotyping a reflection of when the movie was made? 

  • While a kids' movie, how does the movie sneak in more "adult" jokes for older audiences?

  • Does the movie glamorize reckless driving, or is it obviously played up and exaggerated for comedic effect? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love cars

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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