Run time: 108 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 13th March 1969
Distributed by: Disney
Production compaines: Walt Disney Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 12 Rotten: 4
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Robert Stevenson
Producer: Bill Walsh
Starring: Dean Jones as Jim Douglas, Michele Lee as Carole Bennett, Buddy Hackett as Tennessee Steinmetz, Joe Flynn as Havershaw, Benson Fong as Mr. Wu, Andy Granatelli as Association President, David Tomlinson as Peter Thorndyke, Joe E. Ross as Detective (in opening credits) (as Joe E.Ross), Barry Kelley as Police Sgt., Iris Adrian as Carhop
And there's bo better way to describe this story, which features a VW Beetle named Herbie that takes it on itself to hook up a race car driver (Dean Jones) and an auto salesroom employee (Michele Lee). How? He can drive himself, ensure doors remain locked when our would-be lovebirds are inside. He's also got incredible power beyond his modest means: Jones even decides to race Herbie, winning every race he enters.
It's no more absurd than any of the rest of the story, fueled by the lovey groovy setting in 1960s San Francisco. At one point, a panicked Lee, unable to get out of the car while it has opted to take the two leads to a drive-in burger joint, screams to the hippie van next to them, "Help, I'm trapped!" Their response: "We all trapped, sugar baby."
It's kind of the G-rated version of Breakfast at Tiffany's, equally iconic but far goofier -- Herbie's becoming drunk and an attempt to commit suicide just about scraping the bottom of the barrel. (As a side note, both movies even have a stereotypical Chinese character that would raise more than a few eyebrows among PC types.) The Love Bug would spawn three sequels, a TV show, and a remake in the 1990s, with Herbie's talents becoming increasingly more absurd. If memory serves, Herbie would eventually be able to split himself in two at will in order to avoid an obstacle in the road and reattach himself once it was cleared.
The new DVD is a two-disc affair that features endless archival footage, deleted scenes, an audio commentary from stars Jones, Lee, and Buddy Hackett (who plays Herbie's mechanic). For a 35-year-old movie, Herbie's still got an awful lot of love to give.