The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976)

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976)
Article 5747 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-21-2020
Directed by Randal Kleiser
Featuring John Travolta, Glynnis O’Connor, Robert Reed
Country: USA
What it is: Biography of a boy in an extraordinary situation

A boy born without an immune system is forced to live his entire life in a sterile environment. How will this effect his life?

The Lentz guide includes this title, but since this is a fictionalized biography (it’s based on the experiences of two different people) and the science appears to be based on true experiences rather than speculative ones, I’m not sure it qualifies as belonging to the fantastic genres. There is, however, a touch of science fiction when the boy in the bubble speculates that he may be part of an exchange program from another planet (called Thermopolis), which is probably just a joke. The movie set from which I watched this classifies it as a cult item of sort, and the presence of John Travolta just prior to his breakout role in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER may be the reason why. At heart, the movie is primarily a love story; his relationship with the girl next door is the force that drives the main character’s actions. It’s not great, but it’s watchable enough. However, it is a bit weird watching it at this time (for those reading this in the future, we are currently undergoing the coronavirus pandemic); after all, isn’t the main character here undergoing a very extreme sort of social distancing?


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