The first outing for that loveable VW Beetle with a mind of its own, and still the best, The Love Bug remains a classic Disney live-action movie that’s a must-see for all kids. In fact, legend has it that when the film was written, no one knew what car would ‘play’ the role – Disney apparently hired a bevy of cars which they left outside the studio for crew members to look at, including a Toyota and a Volvo. The crew members would inspect each car – but when most of them got to the VW in the line-up, they petted it instead, so the Beetle got the job.
The story is this – racing driver Jim Douglas (Jones) is best known for crashing rather than winning races. After he visits Peter Thorndyke’s (David Tomlinson) car showroom, a cute white VW Beetle takes a liking to Jim and follows him home, and while Jim remains clueless to the fact the car is ‘alive’, his mechanic Tennessee (Buddy Hackett) figures it out and encourages Jim to race the car (now named Herbie). There’s also some matchmaking for Herbie to do (between Jim and Lee’s Carole Bennett) and a bad guy in the form of Thorndyke, plus some really neat races and car stunts that should thrill younger viewers.
The enjoyable sequel Herbie Rides Again (1974) was followed by Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977, which once again reteamed the car with Dean Jones) and the missable Herbie Goes Bananas (1980), while cute update Herbie: Fully Loaded came along in 2005.
Is The Love Bug suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...