The Love Bug (1968)

Article 2120 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-4-2007
Posting Date: 6-2-2007
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Featuring Dean Jones, Michele Lee, David Tomlinson

A down-and-out racing car driver finds himself the owner of a Volkswagen which has a mind of its own as well as the ability to move at lightning speed.

As you may have noticed, I’m not particularly a fan of shopping cart movies; sure, I loved the Disney comedies as a kid, but I usually find they work better as nostalgic memories than they do viewing them in my adulthood. Furthermore, the ones I didn’t see as a kid have no nostalgia value either. Still, some of them surprise me. This is my first viewing of this particular movie, and I didn’t really expect much but the usual shtick, but somehow I found myself caught up in this one. Partially it’s because the movie establishes its main characters so well in the opening scenes that I care about them as people before the silliness begins. Dean Jones has quickly become my second favorite of shopping cart leading men (only trailing Fred MacMurray), and I was surprised by the compassionate undertones in Buddy Hackett’s performance; I usually expect him to play for laughs, but he obviously really cares about Herbie and Jones’ character. In fact, I think the acting is very good and extremely consistent throughout the movie, and some of the comedy is clever and understated; my favorite moment involves two Chinese store owners trying to identify which car damaged their store, and the cars look subtly as if they are in a police lineup. Most surprisingly, Herbie even comes to life as a character; when he runs away at one point in the proceedings, I actually found myself caught up in the pathos. The special effects are excellent, especially during the final race. This has to rank as one of my favorite of the Disney comedies.


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