tek's rating: ¼

The Love Bug (G)
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This came out in 1968 (seven years before I was born). I must have first seen it on TV when I was a kid in the 1980s, probably on The Wonderful World of Disney. It spawned three theatrical sequels (which I must have also seen on TV when I was a kid), plus a short-lived TV series (which I probably didn't see), and a 1997 TV remake/sequel (which I haven't seen), and another theatrical sequel in 2005. Anyway, the original movies are somewhat nostalgic to me, even though I was never a big fan of them. I mean, they were just okay. I'm reviewing the first movie in 2019 (a couple days after watching it in 2018).

Jim Douglas (Dean Jones) is race car driver who has been reduced to competing in demolition derbies. After totaling his car, he goes looking for a new one. He goes into a car showroom, where he meets a woman named Carole Bennet (Michele Lee), who becomes a potential love interest. He's really interested in one particular car, but he can't afford it. While there, he sees a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, and while he doesn't have any particular interest in it, he objects to the owner of the dealership, Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson), treating the car badly. Because of that, the car takes an interest in Jim, and follows him home. Of course, Jim has no idea how the car got there, because cars don't drive themselves. But Thorndyke accuses him of stealing it, and to avoid prosecution, he's forced to buy it. Meanwhile, Jim's friend and roommate, Tennessee Steinmetz (Buddy Hackett), soon comes to believe the car has a mind of its own, and he names it Herbie. Eventually Jim also realizes Herbie is alive, because he can't always control it when driving. That would make him want to get rid of Herbie, except that the car turns out to be capable of incredible speed. So that gives him a chance to get back into proper car races. When Thorndyke (who is also a racing driver) realizes how fast the car is, he wants it back, and becomes obsessed with beating it, but continually loses every race. But eventually Jim and Herbie have a temporary falling out, and things get quite dramatic, before they finally reconcile. And then there's one last major race.

Well, I'm leaving out some details, and I won't say how it all ends. The movie is pretty silly, but it's reasonably amusing and fun, even if it feels rather hokey, in retrospect. (Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if it seemed hokey when it first came out, but it especially does by modern standards.)

The Love Bug * Herbie Rides Again * Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo * Herbie Goes Bananas * Herbie: Fully Loaded

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