Love Bug - split!

directed by Robert Stevenson; screenplay by  Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi; story by Gordon Burford

Quite different from the film I remember from my childhood.

First, it’s a children’s film that doesn’t have a child in a single frame. I’d like to order more of those.

Second, Herbie doesn’t really have that much of a personality and isn’t even really recognized as a sentient being until an hour through the movie – when he attempts suicide by hurling himself off the Golden Gate Bridge. That Disney!

Michele Lee, Benson Fong, oppressively irrepressible Buddy Hackett, and Dean Jones

Michele Lee, Benson Fong, oppressively irrepressible Buddy Hackett, and Dean Jones.

On a lighter note, Buddy Hackett is hysterical; I put his Coney Island joke and subsequent cackle on my answering machine – but without his crazy mug it just isn’t the same.

Buddy Hackett would make an excellent addition to any dvd commentary, including for films he did not participate in. He would have required a wrangler, however.

Buddy Hackett would make an excellent addition to any dvd commentary, including for films he did not participate in. He would have required a wrangler, however.

The obsessed should also listen to the dvd commentary from Dean Jones and Buddy Hackett, which opens with Hackett pronouncing, “Dead. Dead. Dead. He’s dead too,” over the opening credits. Dean Jones tries desperately to keep Hackett on a bland scene-by-scene commentary, but Buddy can barely pay attention to the movie and tells better stories like about getting Charo into Vegas, and another about how he has Chinese siblings – Dean Jones never lets him finish that one.

I think the story started with Benson Fong, the gang’s sponsor, who is a fun addition, though the actor’s fake grey hair looks like someone applied housepaint to his head with a paintbrush.

Michele Lee recorded her commentary separately, and goes on and on about how cute she was without collagen. “Oh, look at those lips! Adorable!” She did seem to prepare some for the commentary by viewing the film beforehand, unlike the other two – Buddy Hackett can’t seem to follow the story – and offers some insight into how Disney shot films at the time, making note of acting styles for love and fight scenes, as well as wardrobe.

I’ve already queued up the rest of the series*, though I doubt any will live up to the original, which I did find charming. The final race, where Herbie and the team have to overcome sabotage to reach a rather astonishing victory, made me laugh out loud, perhaps for the same reasons I laughed as a kid.

Herbie carhop.

Herbie carhop.

*NB: I did just that, but only made it to the second feature, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. I wish I could post about that, except that I remember nothing about the film except that it was bland. Herbie never once skirts an existential nadir, despite being near the heart of Sartre.