Jim Douglas (Dean Jones) is a burned-out racing driver who hopes to revive his career when he stumbles across a Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own and a talent for racing.
At first, Jim struggles with the strong-willed car. But Jim’s faithful friend and supporter, Tennessee (Buddy Hackett), is convinced that they’ve found a very special treasure, and he names the car Herbie. Jim and Herbie start winning several local races and making headlines.
Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson) is the car salesman who sells Herbie to Jim. He’s also a successful racer, and he decides he wants Herbie back. Jim refuses, so Thorndyke is determined to sabotage Jim’s team. And on top of all of that, Jim and Thorndyke have both fallen for Thorndyke’s sales assistant and mechanic, Carole (Michelle Lee).
Car racing; action; adventure; humour; Disney classic
The Love Bug has some violence. For example:
- If Herbie doesn’t get his way, he takes over the driving from the drivers. This means that the drivers are thrown around inside the car.
- Thorndyke viciously feeds Herbie Irish coffee to make him unfit for a race.
- Herbie gets frustrated and jealous when Jim buys a different car. He bangs into it, totally destroying it. Jim then gets angry at Herbie and beats him with a shovel.
- Thorndyke ruthlessly bumps Herbie off the road, with Jim, Carole and Tennessee inside.
The Love Bug has some sexual references. For example:
- A woman in a diner thinks that Jim and Carole are hugging inappropriately. She suggests that Jim and Carol should ‘park at Seabreeze Point’. It sounds like this is a place where couples go to make out in their cars.
- Herbie wants to bring Carole and Jim together. He drives them to Seabreeze Point, where they kiss each other on the mouth.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
The Love Bug shows some use of substances. For example:
- Some characters smoke cigarettes.
- Tennessee offers Thorndyke his home-made Irish coffee. This is coffee with whiskey and whipped cream. They finish the bottle in one sitting. Both are drunk, stumbling and slurring their words.
- Thorndyke wants Herbie to lose a race the next day, so he pours Irish coffee into Herbie’s tank. Consequently, Herbie is in poor form the next day, loses the race and collapses. Tennessee realises that Herbie is hungover.
- Thorndyke wants to celebrate a win before a race actually finishes, and he gets his assistant to pour some wine.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is no nudity and sexual activity in The Love Bug.
The following products are displayed or used in The Love Bug:
- Volkswagen Beetle.
There is no coarse language in The Love Bug.
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Love Bug is a 1968 Disney classic and the first movie in the Herbie series. It’s important to remember that The Love Bug was made over 50 years ago, and that some of the humour is dated and/or based on cultural stereotypes. For example, the movie presents Asian people in stereotypical ways, and Thorndyke belittles Carole’s talent.
Nevertheless, strong-willed and quirky Herbie is still likely to win the hearts of a family audience, and the movie has some positive messages. The Love Bug is best suited to families with children aged over 6 years.
The main messages from this movie are that pride goes before a fall, and that being part of a good team is priceless.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include teamwork, friendship, responsibility, inventiveness and perseverance.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of things like:
- reckless behaviour – for example, Herbie is short-tempered, drives recklessly and causes damage in the process
- gambling – for example, several characters lose because they get a thrill from gambling
- poor sportspersonship – for example, Thorndyke pulls several mean tricks to push his component out of the way but he pays for it and loses out in the end.