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Comedy Movies - The Love Bug

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The Love Bug
Dean Jones, Buddy Hackett, Michele Lee
Walt Disney Pictures 1968 2005
108 minutes
2 DVD Set

The one good thing about this summer of Hollywood remakes due to lack of imagination is that it gives the studios an incentive to release the original. In this case the fairly dreadful Herbie: Fully Loaded with Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, and Matt Dillon is the excuse Disney needed to finally release one of the great comedy films of the late sixties and early seventies: The Love Bug.

This original Herbie movie spawned a series of lesser and lesser follow-ups until they basically retired the car while waiting for a time where no one had any imagination and the audience of the original movie had kids of their own. The Love Bug is a great comedy made back when directors did not feel the need to insert a music video or a product endorsement every three minutes. There is an actual story here, character development, great car stunts, and a whole lot of fun.

Although Dean Jones, a staple of Disney movies for a while, is given first billing, the real star of the movie, aside from Herbie the Volkswagen, is Buddy Hackett as Tennessee Steinmetz, the mechanic that keeps the car running.

This is a movie about believing in the impossible and doing right by those who believe in you. Jones is Jim Douglas, a has-been racer who ends un owning a used Volkswagen that has more under the trunk than it first seems. He becomes successful as a racer again, disbelieving that the car is responsible. His nemesis is Thorndyke, a car dealer and fellow racer. There is a series of dirty tricks pulled on the Douglas team over a few races as Thorndyke tries to either get Herbie or destroy it. The Love Bug can also refer to the romantic comedy behind the relationship between Jones and the Michele Lee character.

This is great fun for the whole family even if today's generation might find the movie a bit slow-paced because it takes its time to set everything up and develop characters.

The Special Edition of The Love Bug is a 2 DVD set. The first DVD consists of the movie, a banal Buena Vista cartoon, Susie The Little Blue Coupe, and audio commentary by Jones, Lee, and Hackett. This is one of the few times where the audio commentary is actually funny, interesting, and not simply phoned in.

The second DVD features a whole bunch of rather unmemorable extras such as actor bios, Love Bug day at Disneyland, photos, and so on. Not really worth it but what the hell.

Most annoying is the packaging. This 2 DVD set comes in a four-pack size clamshell that just takes up space on your shelf. I am sure the people at Disney did not intend their product to take up so much space in a consumer's home nor did they intend to insult them by foisting the obligatory previews on viewers even before you can get to the DVD menu.



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